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Title: A Brief History of the Worshipful Company of Ironmongers - London A.D. 1351-1889, with an Appendix Containing Some Account of the Blacksmiths' Company
Author: Noble, T. C. (Theophilus Charles)
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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      *      *      *      *      *      *

                              MARCH, 1889.

                     HENRY MAUDSLAY, Esq., _Master_.
              EDWARD HADHAM NICHOLL, Esq., _Senior Warden_.
                  JAMES LANGTON, Esq., _Junior Warden_.

            (Who, with 44 others, form the Livery and Court.)

                 T. C. NOBLE, _Warden of the Yeomanry_.

        (Who, with 260 others, constitutes the remaining Freemen

                    R. C. ADAMS BECK, Esq., _Clerk_.
                      Rev. R. M. BAKER, _Chaplain_.
                       Mr. R. ROBERTS, _Surveyor_.
                     Mr. C. W. McCONACHY, _Beadle_.

                         (With other Officers.)

      *      *      *      *      *      *

_The following separately-printed Works (among others) by T. C. NOBLE may
be consulted in the British Museum or Guildhall Library_:—

    =The Lord Mayor of London.= 1860.

    =Memorials of Temple Bar, with Some Account of Fleet Street.=

    =A Ramble Round the Crystal Palace.= 1875.

    =A Brief Account of the Westminster Tobacco-box.= 1879.

    =A Caxton Memorial.= 1880.

    =A Brief Memorial of W. F. Bray.= 1880.

    =Biographical Notices of Thomas Wood, D.D., Bishop of
    Lichfield.= 1882.

    =An Historical Essay on the Rise and Fall of the Spanish
    Armada, 1588.= 1886.

      *      *      *      *      *      *


(See page 14.)]


A.D. 1351-1889

With an Appendix Containing Some Account of
the Blacksmiths’ Company



Warden of the Yeomanry of the Ironmongers’ Company

_With Numerous Illustrations by George Cruikshank
and Others_

Printed for Private Circulation Only
March 1889

Printed by
Spottiswoode and Co., New-Street Square


To my brother Ironmongers, “root and branch,” I dedicate this “brief
history” of our ancient Guild. Notwithstanding the innumerable facts
printed in the following pages, the work must only be considered as an
historical essay upon the tenth of the twelve “great” Livery Companies
of the City of London. A more elaborate compilation is in progress, and
if my life is spared to complete it that work will contain the labour of
love collections during the past quarter of a century of an extensive—I
may say unique—assortment of manuscripts and other papers relating to the
City, its Companies, and its Institutions, which will prove, I have every
reason to believe, a most interesting and valuable civic record.

The present publication has taken place now for several reasons, some of
which I may as well explain. Before J. P. Malcolm printed the interesting
extracts from the Ironmongers’ records in the second volume of his
“Londinium Redivivum,” 1803, very little was known by the general public
about this ancient City Guild. He was followed by William Herbert, the
Guildhall Librarian, in 1834-36, who published a “History of the Twelve
Great Livery Companies,” with a most valuable introductory essay. Both of
these works are now scarce. In 1851 John Nicholl, Esq, F.S.A., a Member
of the Court of the Ironmongers’ Company, compiled his “Some Account”
of the Guild, taken from their own records, and this choice volume he
enlarged and printed in 1866. There were, however, only 150 copies
circulated among the Livery and their friends, consequently this history
is more scarce than those issued by Malcolm and Herbert.

When I was elected Yeomanry Warden at Easter, 1888, in commemoration
of the fact that I was one of the Committee of the Spanish Armada
Tercentenary (Plymouth and London) Commemoration, about which Armada I
had published an essay in 1886, and that the Ironmongers’ Company had
contributed towards the defence of the kingdom exactly three centuries
previous; that the year 1889 was by a curious coincidence the 700th
anniversary of the City Mayoralty; that several eminent Lord Mayors had
been citizens and Ironmongers; that from my own personal knowledge a
large percentage of the present members of the Yeomanry know very little
of the history of their Guild, or about their ancient predecessors; and
last, but not least, that the facilities afforded to me by the Editor
of the well-known trade journal, THE IRONMONGER, for the publication
in its columns during the past three months of this “brief history,”
which has had a circulation not second to any other weekly throughout
the world, prompted me to forward a long-cherished project of compiling
for my brethren a short history, and thus commemorate their kindness for
electing me their representative. The unexpected opportunity of holding
a most enthusiastic meeting on St. Luke’s Day, 1888, at the London
Tavern, opposite Ironmongers’ Hall (our Hall being temporarily closed),
enabled me, as their Warden, to give to my brother Ironmongers the first
historical discourse relating to the Company (see Chapter VI.), and it
helped to comfort their disappointment in being unable to meet in their
own Hall upon the anniversary of the day they had assembled therein for
nearly three hundred years.

Then, again, there are some personal reasons worth mentioning. A
citizen born, the great-grandson of an eighteenth-century engineer and
ironfounder, the grandson of a ship-owner, newspaper proprietor, and
possessor of the historical property in the district which he named
King’s Cross, and where to this day several of the great “iron roads”
of England meet, and the son of a publisher and bookseller of Fleet
Street, whose memory and that of my birthplace I commemorated in 1869
in the “Memorials” of the neighbourhood—in which year, too, by another
remarkable coincidence, I was honoured by being admitted a member of the
Ironmongers’ Company without the payment of fees—an honour only conferred
on those who perform their duty to their fellow-citizens.

When the then member for Cork City asked Parliament twenty years ago
to seize the estates of the Companies in Ireland, I was fortunately
enabled by my knowledge of the subject to assist in the defeat of this
wild, revolutionary scheme of seizing property personally paid for by
the ancestors of the citizens of London. It was the Hon. the Irish
Society and the Companies who voted me their thanks, and it was my two
ever-revered friends, John Nicholl, our historian, and S. Adams Beck,
our then clerk (the father of our present zealous official)—the memory
of whom will long remain dear, for their portraits hang side by side in
our Court-room—it was their kind notice of my humble efforts, and their
repeated good advice, which helped me to the honour I so highly valued,
and led me to be ever watchful of our rights and privileges.

Thirty years ago my said dear friend John Nicholl was Master of the
Company (he died in 1871), and this year his son is our Senior Warden,
and (I trust) our next Master. We wish him every best wish, we heartily
pray that the Almighty will bless us all, and that “the Worshipful
Company of Ironmongers, root and branch,” may be permitted to “flourish
for ever.”

    Dalston, London, March, 1889.

                                                       T. C. NOBLE,
                                                  Warden of the Yeomanry,


    CHAPTER                                                        PAGE

            I.—The Old City, its Citizens and Guilds                  1

           II.—Iron, Ironworks, and Ironmongers                       6

          III.—The Worshipful Company of Ironmongers                 11

  IV., V., VI.—Four Hundred Years of the Ironmongers’ History     19-40

          VII.—The Apprentices, the Hall, and the Irish Estate       41

        VIII.—The Ironmongers’ Charities and Charitable Ironmongers  51


            Some Account of the Blacksmiths’ Company and their
                   Exhibition at Ironmongers’ Hall                61-74


  PLATE                                                            PAGE

     I.—_Frontispiece_: Arms of the Ironmongers’ Company

    II.—(_a_) The Old Church of Allhallows Staining, Mark Lane, 1807,
              now removed (except the tower), and the parish united
              with St. Olave, Hart Street; Ironmongers’ Hall is in
              the parish of Allhallows                                1

        (_b_) The Church of St. Luke’s, Old Street, Middlesex,
              1807; erected on land part of the Ironmongers’
              estate; consecrated on St. Luke’s Day, 1733             1

   III.—(_a_) One of the ancient silver-gilt salt-cellars            12

        (_b_) One of two fifteenth-century maple-wood mazer-bowls,
              with silver-gilt mountings                             12

    IV.—A cocoa-nut cup, or hanap, of sixteenth-century date, with
              silver-gilt bands and mountings, and 8½ inches high    18

     V.—(_a_) The “Estridge,” or ostrich, carved in wood, about
              4 feet high, which was used in the Lord Mayor’s
              pageant of 1629, and now preserved at the Hall; it
              has a horseshoe in its beak                            26

        (_b_) A bronze token representing the fourteen almshouses
              erected under Sir Robert Geffery’s trust, in the
              Kingsland Road, 1713-1714                              26

    VI.—The hearse-cloth, or Ironmongers’ funeral pall, of crimson
              velvet and cloth-of-gold tissue, the gift of John
              Gyva, 1515, 6 feet 5 inches long by 22 inches wide;
              the centre of each side represents “The Blessed
              Virgin Mary in Glory”—Plate I.                         34

   VII.—(_a_, _b_, _c_) Ditto, Plate II.—The Three Saints            42

  VIII.—Ditto, Plate III.—Monstrance at each end                     50

    IX.—(_a_) The Devil gives St. Dunstan a morning call             60

        (_b_) St. Dunstan compels the “Evil One” to sign a treaty
              of peace                                               60

     X.—St. Dunstan gives a practical reminder of the power of
              the horseshoe                                          65

    XI.—(_a_) The “Evil One” on his rounds sees the effect of the
        treaty                                                       69

        (_b_) The horseshoe puts to flight the Devil and pursues
               the “Evil One” and all his evil companions            69

1807. (See page 45.)

page 57.)]




In the history of the ancient Livery Companies of London we read the
history and progress of not only the City but the Empire. During the many
centuries of their existence the Guilds have performed a work for which
they deserve the praise and continued support of not only every citizen,
but every man who to-day enjoys the freedom of local self-government.
There have been kings and prime ministers who, in their tyrannical
measures, have forgotten the interests of the people and their trades in
their desire to gain unlawful ends, but in every case for hundreds of
years the citizens and the Guilds of London have stood forward to fight
the great battles for freedom, and the continued and present existence of
the Corporation of the ancient City, and the good work they do to-day,
prove, if we carefully read their history, that to them we are more
deeply indebted than “reformers” choose to acknowledge.

Generations ago “the City” was a very small place, surrounded by a wall
with gates, through which the green fields and suburbs—then the pleasant
villages of Southwark, Charing, St. Giles, Clerkenwell, Islington,
Shoreditch, and the Tower Hamlets and Stepney—could be reached. These
gates stood at or near the entrances of the present streets known as
Moorgate, Cripplegate, Aldersgate, Newgate, Ludgate, Billingsgate,
Aldgate, and Bishopsgate, so that the reader can judge what the size of
old London was. On the south side there was the River Thames with its
Dowgate, and between this water-gate and Billingsgate was the entrance
across the only bridge that then spanned the river, which existed close
to where St. Magnus Church now stands—a few yards east of the present
London Bridge. In the suburbs were many excellent springs of water, known
as Holywells, and at one of these the parish clerks of the City assembled
periodically and held their festivals. The well existed till late years
in Ray Street, close to the Middlesex Sessions House, and the district
is now known as Clerkenwell. The Parish Clerks’ Company, although not a
livery guild, still exists, and is one of the oldest of the Guilds.

It was long before the time of famous John Stow that London found a
contemporary topographer, for as early as the year 1179—now 710 years
ago—William Fitzstephen tells us the citizens everywhere “are esteemed
the politest of all others in their manners, their dress, and the
elegance and splendour of their tables,” and he pictures us the City in
all its primitive grandeur, while the citizens themselves were dignified
by the name of barons, a fact borne out by their description in King
John’s charter. Speaking of this charter reminds us that a brief epitome
of the principal grants, from the Conquest to the reign of Edward IV.,
when the Ironmongers’ Company received its incorporation, will help the
reader to more easily comprehend the progress of the citizens and the

There is no document more treasured at Guildhall than the diminutive
parchment which William the Conqueror gave to the citizens 800 years ago,
and upon which we all base our rights and privileges.

    I will that ye be worthy
    of all those laws which
    ye were in King Edward’s day;
    and I will that each child
    be his father’s heir after his
    father’s day, and I will not
    suffer that any man do you
    wrong. God preserve you.

In the Confessor’s time “the burgesses” of London had obtained the king’s
warrant for their freedom, and their children’s heirship, so that their
lives and their goods should be protected from the rapacity of the Lords.
The foreign merchant was only permitted in the City as a lodger, and was
strictly forbidden from selling his wares by retail and underselling and
infringing the rights of his entertainer, the citizen. Thus do we see
nearly a thousand years ago a precaution taken which we to-day are still
clamouring for!

King Henry I., for a quit rent of 300_l._ per annum, granted the citizens
the Sheriffwick of Middlesex, which 750 years later has been taken from
them. The same monarch also granted them the privilege of hunting, and it
is probably through this right the Londoners obtained of late years, for
ever, Epping Forest as an open space.

Being dependent upon the king, before the days of charter rights the
citizens were often sorely fleeced upon the slightest pretence, and in
order to protect themselves they in process of time formed guilds or
fraternities of different trades. Richard I. freed them from toll and
lestage throughout England, and gave them the conservancy of the River
Thames, which right was taken from them some thirty years ago. Of course
King John enlarged their privileges in 1199, for the City paid him 3,000
marks, and kings would do anything if you paid them handsomely. Five
charters out of eight granted by Henry III. cost them one-fifteenth
of their estate, and for another, dated 1265, they paid 13,000_l._
We mention this to show that having bought these privileges it is
unreasonable to deprive them of their rights without compensation, and
yet this question is never properly understood or thought of.

In the fifth charter granted by King John (1214) the citizens of
London received the privilege of choosing their own Mayor from among
themselves, and it is to this right many of the livery companies owe
their foundation. The first Edward permitted the Chief Magistrate to be
sworn in before the Constable at the Tower should the king or his judges
be absent from London; and, furthermore, no stranger was to be admitted
to the City freedom unless six honest and sufficient members of a mystery
or trade be surety. In 1311 Edward II. exempted the citizens from service
outside the City in the time of war or tumult, and for this privilege the
king was favoured with a gift of 2,000 marks.

To King Edward III. the citizens are indebted for many of their most
valued privileges. Thus, in 1327, the Mayor was instituted one of the
judges in trials at the Old Bailey (Newgate), the right to bring felons
from any part of England and to their goods, the right of devising in
Mortmain and forbidding the holding of markets within seven miles of the
City. And in order to give them control over such persons as escaped to
Southwark to avoid justice, that ancient village was added to the City
liberties (and subsequently designated Bridge Ward Without). In 1337
the same king confirmed the rights and privileges, forbidding “foreign”
merchant traders retailing in the City and acting as brokers; and in 1354
granted a fifth charter, permitting the Mayor to have gold or silver
maces carried before him, from which time the title of Lord Mayor of
London has been assumed by London’s Chief Magistrate.

Edward IV. was not behind his predecessors in favouring the citizens, but
then it must be noted they paid him some 12,000_l._ for four charters. In
1462 the Mayor, ex-Mayors, and Recorder were all made perpetual justices,
and were exempted from serving on juries, &c., while Bartholomew Fair,
with a court of Pie Poudre, was to be held in Smithfield. And in 1478
they obtained the right of electing a coroner, and for wine-gauging,
&c. As it was Edward IV. who granted the Ironmongers their charter, we
have traced the progress of the City privileges so far, and leave the
Ironmongers’ records to tell the tale of subsequent progress.

In the course of the preceding remarks the citizens have been so
continually alluded to, that a few notes about them and what really
constituted a citizen will not be out of place here. In the first place,
we think it is not generally known that every member of a City Company
is a citizen of London, but every citizen is not a member of a Company.
There are two grades of citizens—one free of the City only; the other
free of both City and Company, the latter freeman being designated
as “citizen and ironmonger,” or whatever Company he may belong to.
As the elections or admissions to all the Companies are the same,
that describing the admission to the Ironmongers’ will be found in a
subsequent chapter of our history.

In all the early charters the general term is “citizens,” but the
Conqueror calls them “burhwarn” (inhabitants or burgesses of the
borough), and John and Henry III. call them “barons.” The citizens or
freemen were the men or inhabitants of free condition and householders,
in contradistinction to the bondsmen or villains of the great lords. In
the time of Henry III. (1260) all persons of the age of twelve years
and upwards were commanded to swear allegiance to the king. In 1305
four persons who held land from the Bishop of London, and dwelt outside
the City, were deprived of their freedom, and about the same time the
City records declare that everyone who is sworn a freeman, and acts
contrary to his oath, should be compelled to “forsweare the town” and
lose his privileges. The statute of the 18th Edward II. for View of
Frankpledge contains a list of articles still in use, but the statute
has been improperly neglected. In 1326 all alien merchants were directed
to be amerced, and in 1364 it was ordained that a citizen should obtain
his privileges by birth (as a son of a citizen), by servitude (as an
apprentice), or by presentment of a mystery or Guild. In 1377, and for a
few years after, it was decreed that members of the Common Council should
only be chosen from the mysteries, and in 1385 a most important decision
was come to, for upon the complaint of the Mercers and the Drapers that
some persons had been improperly admitted to the Haberdashers’ and
Weavers’ Guilds who were not of those trades, they were at once expelled
the City. In the seventh year of Edward IV. no freeman or officer of the
City was to be allowed to use the livery of any lord or great man, on
pain of losing his office and freedom, so it is pretty evident the two
evils which at the present time (1889) beset us—foreign traders and civil
servant traders—were not unknown 400 years ago.

We shall conclude this the first chapter of our history by a brief
notice of what is to be understood by the description “Guild.” In
ancient times Guilds or Gilds were of two kinds—religious and secular.
The term “Guilds” is from the Saxon—to pay, an amerciement or payment
towards the support of a brotherhood. The religious Guilds existed until
their dissolution by Edward VI.; their foundations in some cases were
very early, for at Glemsford, in Suffolk, in Canute’s time, existed a
fraternity of clerks. In London, the “Cnughts” or “Cnuighten Gild,”
of thirteen persons, had their district or soke outside the City
walls, near the Tower, and was the origin of Portsoken Ward. The Gilda
Theutonicorum, the steel-yard merchants of Dowgate, who first existed
900 years ago, and held a most important position, had their guildhall
in the neighbourhood where of late years the iron trade has been so
well known (Thames Street), and yet it must be borne in mind that the
definition of _steel_-yard was in reality a yard for warehousing general
_staple_ goods, and not solely for steel or iron ware. The transfer of
all trade concerns to the management and jurisdiction of the Craft Guild
was generally accomplished by a confirmation of their ordinance, that
everyone carrying on a trade within the town should join the Guild,
for which the Guild paid certain taxes—in London to the King—and under
Henry I. (1100-1133), and every succeeding reign, the Weavers paid a
fee-farm rent, and in 1179 no less than eighteen Guilds were amerced
as adulterine, or set up without licence. This was the same year that
Fitzstephen tells us the followers of the several trades, the vendors
of various commodities, and the labourers of every kind were to be
found in their proper and distinct places. Now, in proof of this, we
find that to this day in the neighbourhood of Cheap (market) side the
streets and lanes still exist wherein the particular trades in the old
City were carried on, viz., Milk Street, Bread Street Poultry, Cornhill,
Wood Street, Candlewick (now Cannon) Street, and Ironmonger Lane—in
which latter thoroughfare and Old Jewry, close to the Guildhall, the
ironmongers of old London carried on their business, as will be proved in
another chapter.

Many of the ancient Guilds in local places which related to ironmongers
will be mentioned further on, but we may mention that Walford, speaking
of the Reading Cutlers’ and Bellfounders’ Guilds, tells us that one of
their orders was:—“No smith may sell iron wares within the borough
except a freeman, on forfeiture of two shillings each time.” Next to the
Saddlers’ and Weavers’ Guilds of London in antiquity are the Glovers’
and the Blacksmiths’—the latter ordinances are dated 1434—and of this
particular Company the writer of the present history will at some future
time give some interesting and little known details. Suffice it to say
now that one of the orders particularly ordained: “If eny of the seid
bretheren or there wyves be absent fro oure comon dyner or elles fro
oure quater dai schall paie as moche as if he or she ware present.”
It is proved in this ordinance that dinners were common with the City
Guilds four centuries ago, and that the wives of the members were of as
much importance to the craft as the members themselves. At the present
day, we regret to find that the ladies are not always considered with so
brotherly an attention as the blacksmiths considered their ladies in King
Henry’s day.

Another of the ancient Guilds was the Farriers’, whose orders, about the
year 1324, included the charges to be made for shoeing horses, at the
rate of a penny halfpenny for six nails, and twopence for eight nails.

In Buckingham there was a Guild called the Mercers’, which existed from
early days. Even as late as the seventeenth century the minutes of this
Company contained many very curious entries. For instance, in 1665, when
Thomas Arnott, the eldest son of Walter Arnott, was made free upon the
understanding that he was “to follow the trade of an ironmonger,” he paid
“one gallon of good wyne for his freedom,” and when his brother Thomas
was admitted in 1671 “to follow only ye trade of an ironmonger,” he also
paid the like fee. Upon turning to the ordinances of the Company we find
that the ironmongers of the borough were, with other trades, associated
under the name of the Mercers’, and that the fifth clause particularly
orders “noe strange pson or fforeigner inhabiting within the said borough
or pish, and not ffree of the same, shall bee made ffree of the said
Companies to the intent to sell or utter any kind of wares usually solde
by any artificier, before such time as every such strange or forrein pson
have paid for his freedome”—the sums specified in a schedule annexed, and
which “for every ironmonger” was 20_l._, and “one good leather buckett
for the use of the said Corporation,” and that the son of such person or
freeman so admitted shall, upon being made free of the Company “whereunto
he hath beene an apprentice in forme aforesaid,” pay to “the bayliffe and
burgesses and his Company one gallon of good wyne.”

As we proceed with our history we shall find some curious facts connected
with the London ironmongers, and that their ordinances, quaint and still
in force, contain many very illustrative evidences of the trade-unions of
centuries ago.



Iron and its uses historically described should form no unimportant
part to the history of the Ironmongers’ Company, but as it is not our
intention now to give the thousand-and-one notes which would form a most
interesting and valuable compendium to the general account of the City
Guild, it is sufficient for us if we so condense our large store of
material and give such an epitome as will assist the reader to comprehend
the origin of the trade of which the company bears the name.

A well-known writer justly observes that no one should fail to consider
the origin, history, and value of iron; that our instruments of cutlery,
the tools of our mechanics, and the countless machines which we construct
by the infinitely varied applications of iron are derived from ore for
the most part coeval with or more ancient than the fuel by the aid of
which we reduce it to its metallic state, and apply it to innumerable
uses in the economy of human life. The use of iron is identified with the
time of erecting the Egyptian monuments, the oldest in the world, and a
very large number of the helmets dug up at Nineveh were made of iron, and
some of copper inlaid. Readers of history have only to turn to the pages
of Anderson, Fosbroke, Scrivenor, Layard, and others to learn that iron
has ever been a most useful and valuable article of commerce.

The Romans proved their constructive ingenuity by the manufacture of
those innumerable articles of iron which from time to time have been dug
up throughout England, particularly in those districts where woods and
forests at one time existed. In Gloucestershire the Forest of Dean for
centuries had the extensive furnaces about which so many battles were
fought in and out of Parliament, and in Sussex the sites of the ancient
ironworks in the Weald can be traced to this day, and will be found
described in Lower’s “Historical and Archæological Notices,” printed
in the second volume of the Sussex Collections. In the reign of the
Conqueror Gloucestershire possessed a large trade in the forging of iron
for the King’s navy, and in Edward I.’s time seventy-two furnaces were
kept employed. As we progressed, England discovered that the iron we
manufactured was wanted for home use, consequently Edward III. prohibited
its exportation.

In the accounts for carrying on the war in 1513 there is an item
mentioning “nailes and yeran worke,” and just thirty years later
(according to Holinshed) the first cast-iron cannon was made at Buxted,
in Sussex, by Rafe Hoge and Peter Bawde. Among the State Papers there
are a quantity relating to the casting of cannon not only in Sussex, but
in other counties. The Lamberhurst furnace was a large foundry, for the
woods of the Weald were plentiful, and here, at a cost of 11,202_l._,
were produced the 2,500 fine iron railings and seven iron gates, weighing
200 tons and 81 lbs., for the enclosure of Wren’s Cathedral of St.
Paul’s, London. It is worthy of note that as early as 1290 Master Henry
of Lewes received a payment for the ironwork of the monument of Henry
III. in Westminster Abbey. The parish of Mayfield was famous for its
iron; at the palace were preserved many relics, and among these the
hammer, anvil, and tongs of St. Dunstan. Lower says “they seem to refer
as much to the iron trade, so famous in these parts, as to the alleged
proficiency of the Saint in the craft of a blacksmith. The hammer and
tongs are of no great antiquity, but the hammer with its iron handle may
be considered a mediæval relic.” The old legend of St. Dunstan and his
successful encounter with “the Evil one” must form part of the history
of the blacksmiths, and will not be an uninteresting portion of their
“mystery.” In 1559 the value of iron and ironwork brought into the port
of London, “the excess of which is prejudicial to the realm,” is set
down in a State Paper to be 19,559_l._ In 1622 Thomas Covell and others
received a certificate permitting them to sell round iron shot at 11_l._
per ton.

In the reign of Elizabeth there are two most interesting notices in
manuscript. The first of the year 1574, the second of the Armada year
1588. Nowadays we are used to “company promoting,” but three centuries
ago there was as wild a scheme countenanced by Her Majesty’s Ministers
as ever was floated to-day. Strype, in his “Annals” (quoting the
original MSS.), says “a great project has been carrying on now for two
or three years of alchymy, William Medley being the great undertaker
to turn iron into copper. Sir Thomas Smith, Secretary of State, had by
some experiments made before him a great opinion of it,” so had the
great Lord Burleigh, the Earl of Leicester, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, and
others, each of whom speculated, with the result that Her Majesty (for
certain royalties allowed her) granted them a patent in January, 1574,
incorporating them as the “Governor and Society of the New Art” ...
“for making copper and quicksilver by the way of transmutation with the
commodities growing of that mystery.” Twenty persons only were to form
the company; to “dig open and work for any mines, owers, and things
whatsoever.” Sundry sums of 100_l._ each were subscribed by Burleigh,
Smith & Co., but “the concern” did not prosper. The assay master at the
Tower mint was sent to “the works,” and so was Robert Denham, a relative,
by the way, of the Sir Wm. Denham who had been seven times Master of the
Ironmongers’ Company; but somehow or other we fail, as Strype failed with
all the papers before him, to learn “the wind up” of what was thought to
be “a most splendid investment.”

Now in 1588 there was the original certificate given by “John Colman,
of the Kanc, gent,” of “Chardges belonging to a furnace for making a
fowndry of iron for one whole weeke” at Canckwood (Cannock Wood?), co.
Stafford. According to this document, for one ton the furnace cost
110_s._ 10½_d._, and the forge 69_s._ 2_d._; total, 9_l._ 0_s._ 0½_d._
Seven years previous to this, the Act of Elizabeth, “Touching yron milles
neere unto the Cittie of London and the Ryver of Thames,” enacted that in
consequence of the great consumption of wood as fuel for these mills, no
woods within 22 miles of the City should be converted “to cole or other
fewell for the making of iron or iron mettell in any iron milles furnes
or hammer,” except the woods of the wealds of Surrey, Sussex, and Kent,
and the woods of Christopher Darrell, of Newdigate, Surrey, gent, and who
had already preserved his woods for his own ironworks.

Speaking of patents and Acts of Parliament recalls a note or two which
may as well be stated here. In 1676 Samuel Hutchinson, citizen and
ironmonger of London, had a patent granted to him for his invention, “a
newe way of melting downe leade oare into good and mallyable mettall with
minerall coales commly called sea coales and pitt coales, which hath byn
approved of by many prsons dealing in leade and other artists.” In 1766
John Purnell, of Froombridge, Gloucester, ironmaster, invented a new
machine for making ship-bolts and rods of iron and steel. Between these
dates there were several patents granted to ironmongers, but the patents
were for numerous inventions quite apart from the trade.

We have stated that the Ironmongers are known to have existed many years
previous to their incorporation in 1463. Now, according to the ancient
City records, called “Liber Horn,” compiled in the reign of Edward I.,
(and quoted by Stow and others), the “Feroners,” or dealers in iron,
about the year 1300 complained to the Mayor (Elias Russel) and the
aldermen “for that the smiths of the wealds and other merchants bringing
down irons of wheels for carts to the City of London they were much
shorter than was anciently, to the great loss and scandal of the whole
trade of ironmongers.” Whereupon an inquisition was taken, and three rods
of the just length of the strytes, and the length and breadth of the
gropes belonging to the wheels of carts were presented and sealed with
the City seal. One was deposited in the Chamber of London, Guildhall, and
the other two handed to John Dode and Robert Paddington, the ironmongers
of the market, and John Wymondham, ironmonger of the Bridge, who were
accordingly sworn to oversee for the benefit of the trade, and empowered
to seize all unjust and less-sized irons in future. This reference is
particularly interesting, for it not only proves the existence of “the
trade” at least one hundred and sixty years before the incorporation of
the Ironmongers, but gives us an insight into the way complaints were
redressed nearly six hundred years ago.

In Causton’s introduction to “Mildmay on City Elections,” we are
told that in a few years after the accession of Edward III. a silent
revolution had been accomplished—the gildated crafts by the enrolment
of the special freemen, householders of the wards each in his mystery,
had obtained an exclusively civic importance, paramount to the mixed
character of the inhabitants of the wards as civic divisions, and the
reconstruction of the City from a territorial to a trading classification
had become complete. Thus, in the twenty-fifth year of Edward III., 1351,
a precept was directed to the wardens of the City Guilds by the Mayor
(which precept formerly had been directed to the men of each ward),
and in this precept each of the thirty-three mysteries was directed to
select from their number four persons, who were to join the others of the
Companies in a consultation with the Mayor and Sheriffs on the business
of the City. The Ironmongers accordingly selected their two wardens
and two others to represent them, and from this date they claim their
existence as a Guild. In 1363 (37 Edward III.), when these Companies were
called upon for “an offering” to the King to enable him to carry on the
war in France, the then large sum of 452_l._ 16_s._ was contributed,
and the Ironmongers supplied 6_l._ 18_s._ 4_d._ It is worthy of note
that upon this occasion in precedency on the list it stood eleventh,
while to-day, some 500 years later, its precedency on the list of City
Companies is the tenth. Of this precedency, which was a serious question
in olden time, we shall have to say a few words later on in our history.

We have now to mention a most interesting circumstance, which has only
recently been discovered. Among the enrolled letters at Guildhall which
between 1350 and 1370 were sent from the Corporation to many persons,
and which Dr. Sharpe, the Records Clerk, so ably edited for the City
four years ago, there is one written in French, and dated the 18th of
October, the 38th Edward III. (1364), and directed to some persons whose
names have not been preserved, but then residents at Bury—probably Bury
St. Edmunds, in Suffolk—“desiring them to assist Thomas de Mildenhale,
citizen and ironmonger of London, to recover his runaway apprentice,
Andrew, the son of William Bruwere, who is understood to be staying
in the town of Bury, in such manner as they would wish their folk to
be treated in like case or weightier. The Lord have them ever in his
keeping.” We are not told, and are not likely to know now, whether this
runaway “merry” Andrew was brought back, and, if so, how the Chamberlain
received him. In subsequent days a runaway apprentice would have “little
ease” at the hands of the Guildhall caretaker of a citizen’s conscience.

We shall include in this second chapter of our history another most
interesting document which Mr. Riley found when making his extracts
from the Guildhall treasures a few years ago. It is nothing more or
less than the appraisement of the goods and chattels of Stephen le
Northerne, in the thirtieth year of Edward III. (1356), and gives us
a very curious picture of what an ironmonger’s shop contained at that
date. It would appear that the goods were in the house of one John
Leche, in the parish of St. Michael, Cornhill, on June 6 that year, and
that the appraisers were William Sunnyng, carpenter, Robert de Blithe,
“brasyere,” Robert Russe, “brasyere,” Henry Clement and Stephen Basham,
“lockyers” (locksmiths), and Adam Wayte, “upholder.” The total value
of the household goods and stock-in-trade came to the sum of 9_l._
14_s._ 2_d._, but even this amount was a large one in those days. Among
the articles enumerated and appraised we find five carpets, 7_s._;
five bankeres, (bench-covers), 12 quyshynes (cushions), and one dosere
(tapestry hanging), 3_s._ 9_d._; three tablecloths and one towel, 21_d._;
one surcoat, 8_s._; one aumbrey (portable cupboard) and chest, 18_d._;
one balance, called an “auncere” (weighing-machine), 12_d._; pair of iron
gauntlets and pair of bracers (for the arms), 6_d._; 20 lbs. pewter,
2_s._ 11_d._; two querne (or mill) stones, 18_d._; three brass pots,
two pitchers, a basin, seven brass plates, nine pieces of holdshrof,
19_s._ 11_d._; feather bed, three carpets, three sheets, 9_s._ 6_d._; two
balances, 6_s._; trivet and four iron slegges (sledge-hammers), 3_s._
6_d._; two plonchones (iron punches) and four cart-strokes (tires),
3_s._ 8_d._; pair of irons for Eucharist, five fire-forks, four heynges,
one tin pan, six latches for doors, four small goldsmiths’ anvils,
two kerfsheres (chaff-shears), 5_s._; eight pairs of kemstercombs
(wool-combers), and one boweshawe (bowshave), 11_d._; old iron and
balance, 6_s._ 8_d._; two iron spits and iron for bedsteads, 5_s._ 8_d._;
fifteen battle-axes, 7_s._; four hatches and nine pair of hinges, 6_s._;
two small andirons, twelve hatchets, five pickaxes, seven carpenters’
axes, three twybilles, three woodbilles, four masons’ axes (old), pair
of pincers, flesh-hook, &c., 10_s._ 4_d._; twelve dozen hinges, 5_s._;
ten pairs linch-pins, nine pairs of bar-hooks, 6_s._; iron grate, anvil,
&c., 2_s._ 3_d._; thirty-three pairs of okees (ornamental mouldings),
6_s._; twenty bolts and sockets, 6_s._; twelve pairs of Utt garnets,
eleven pairs of Ambry garnets, ten plate-locks, 8_s._ 6_d._; five
latches, iron chisel, 120 keys, twelve cart-clouts (axle-tree plates),
3_s._; pikestaff, 4_d._; sixty columns (axle trees) for wheels, three
barrels and two vats, 2_s._ 3_d._; pair of mustard querns (mills), 6_d._:
mincing-bowl and shoe-horn, 1_d._; bacinet, dagger, and buckler, 5_s._;
wooden bedstead, 2_s._; &c.

This inventory is very curious, and, as inventories of so early a date
are very rare, we could not resist the temptation of quoting one,
especially when it related to an ironmonger’s shop. Now, it appears
that the whole of these goods and chattels, together with one tenement,
three shops, and one alley, situated in the parish of St. Michael,
Cornhill, and valued at fourteen shillings yearly (rents in Cornhill
were reasonable in those days), were delivered over to Simon Palmer,
“pelterer,” and William Sunnyng, “carpenter,” by the Mayor and Aldermen,
to be holden in trust for the use of Alice, the daughter of John Leche
aforesaid, when she came of age. As the premises appear to have been
shortly afterwards burnt to the ground, the trustees had to rebuild, and
on folio 45 of the Corporation Letter Book G Mr. Riley found the cost of
such restoration.

In our first chapter we stated it was in 1377 that by enactment the
Common Council and other officials of the City were directed to be
elected from the mysteries instead of by the Wards, as theretofore. This
privilege, although only temporarily enjoyed as regarded the Council, yet
has continued, so far as the Liverymen being the elective body of the
City officials, down to the present time, notwithstanding that 500 years
have passed by since the passing of the Act; and, looking at the list of
names of the persons chosen and the many notable individuals, styled by
old Stow under the heading, “Honor of citizens and worthinesse of men
in the same,” there are few persons who carefully and without prejudice
study the facts but will agree with us that the Livery have never
neglected their duty, but have, as a rule, only elected those persons who
would do their duty to their country, to their Sovereign, and to their
brethren in the City. We sincerely trust that, whenever any elective
franchise is conferred upon the Londoners at large, they will execute
their trust with as good and unbiased a judgment. In our next chapter
we shall tell how the Ironmongers carried out their trust after their
foundation as a Guild and an Incorporated Company of the City of London.



Although existing records do not give us all the information we
should like to have about the ancient history of the Guilds, we have,
nevertheless, been able to show that by their joining in the election of
the City officials in the year 1351, and choosing four of their members
(John Deynes and Richard de Eure, wardens, and Henry de Ware and William
Fromond), “the wisest and most sufficient” in the Guild, to treat with
the Mayor and Sheriffs upon the “serious business” of the City, that
the Ironmongers were duly recognised thus early as a firmly-established

The “market,” or special place of business of the fraternity, was, as
we have said, in the neighbourhood of the City Guildhall, and hence
the existing name of Ironmonger Lane, which is a thoroughfare out of
Cheapside, on the north side, and the next turning to the Old Jewry
westward, between which streets to this day stands a church, known as St.
Olave’s (about to be removed), the predecessors of which—St. Martin’s,
Ironmonger’s Lane, and St. Olave—contained the remains of several eminent
ironmongers, including William Dikeman, “Feroner,” one of the sheriffs,
1367; Robert Havelocke, 1390; Thomas Michell, 1527; Richard Chamberlain,
1562. At what date the craft left this neighbourhood is unknown. We know
they possessed the Ironmongers’ Hall, more east, near Billiter Street,
in the middle of the fifteenth century, about which district the members
individually may have carried on business; Strype, however, stating that
when they removed from their old market they took up a position in Thames
Street, wherein to this day, as is well known, the iron wharves and
warehouses are numerous and extensive.

The precedency question in the olden time was a momentous one for the
City Guilds, and led to many conflicts between the members of certain
companies, which will be mentioned when speaking of “the Livery” and
“apprentices” hereafter. It is worthy of note here to remark that in the
year 1376(7), the fiftieth of Edward III., forty-eight Guilds elected 148
of their members as the Common Council, when the Ironmongers, standing
the thirty-fifth in the list, elected four of their number. We imagine
that no actual precedency was here followed, for in subsequent lists the
“great” companies contained first thirteen names, and eventually twelve,
in which the Ironmongers stood eighth, eleventh, and, finally, tenth, a
position assigned them not so much for their wealth, but probably for
their respectability, or, as old Stow says, “the worthiness of the men,”
and the power they possessed.

[Illustration: ANCIENT SILVER-GILT SALT-CELLAR. (See page 21.)


Again, from these great companies the Lord Mayor was always chosen. The
first Mayor was Henry Fitzalwyn, “Draper,” near the London Stone, which
is an ancient City relic still existing (but not on its original site)
in Cannon Street, not many yards from the office of THE IRONMONGER, in
which this history is first published exactly 700 years afterwards,
for Fitzalwyn was first chosen in 1189, and continued to hold office
twenty-four successive years. As we have said, the Lord Mayor was always
“one of the Twelve”; but in 1742 Sir Robert Wilmot, “Cooper,” declining
to be “translated” to the Clothworkers (as was the custom when the Mayor
elect was of a minor company), and there being no law to compel him, he
was consequently the first Mayor not of the great companies; and it is a
curious fact that Wilmot’s predecessor in office was an ironmonger, and
to this day the Coopers and the Ironmongers are associated in the Irish

After a lapse of 500 years it will be interesting to many, and to those
who object to oath-taking in particular, if we give in its original form
the wording of the Ironmongers’ Warden’s oath required to be taken before
admission in the fiftieth year of Edward III. Its quaint phraseology must
be our excuse for the transcript:—“Yᵉ shall swere that yᵉ shall wele
and treuly ov’see the Craft of Iremongers’ wherof yᵉ be chosen Wardeyn
for the yeere. And all the goode reules and ordynces of the same craft
that been approved here be the Court, and noon other, yᵉ shal kepe and
doo to be kept. And all the defautes that yᵉ fynde in the same Craft
ydon to the Chambleyn of yᵉ Citee for the tyme beyng, yᵉ shal wele and
treuly P’sente. Sparyng noo man for favor ne grevyng noo p’sone for hate.
Extorcion ne wrong under colour of your office yᵉ shall non doo, nethir
to noo thing thot shalbe ayenst the State, peas, and profite of oure
Sovereyn Lord the Kyng or to the Citee yᵉ shall not consente, but for the
tyme that yᵉ shalbe in office in all things thot shalbe longyng unto the
same craft after the lawes and ffranchises of the seide Citee welle and
laufully yᵉ shal have you. So helpe you God and all Seyntes.”

In 1397, one of the years of “Dick Whittington” as Lord Mayor, a curious
case came before the Court of Aldermen for decision. William Sevenoake,
a native of Sevenoaks, in Kent, and who, subsequent to the date we
mention, was Sheriff and Mayor of London, and founder of the schools and
almshouses at Sevenoaks, prayed the Court to be enrolled on the Grocers’
Company, notwithstanding in his apprenticeship his master Hugh de Boys
was called an ironmonger. The Grocers having proved the facts, William
was accordingly entered as a grocer, and 40_s._ paid for the privilege.

Before their incorporation, the Ironmongers were represented by three
Mayors of London, viz., Sir Richard Marlow, 1409-10, and again, 1417-18,
and by Sir John Hatherley, 1442-43, and yet, after their incorporation,
and not until the year 1566-67 did another ironmonger fill the “chair,”
although several sheriffs represented the Guild both before and after
their charter was granted.

Herbert, the Guildhall librarian of half a century ago, speaking of the
compulsory enrolment of the Companies’ charters, “regretted exceedingly
that so little could be found about the ancient state of the City Guilds
among the State papers and records preserved by the nation.” If the
zealous literary citizen had only known then what we know to-day he
would not only have regretted, but denounced in the strongest terms (as
we do now), the gross mismanagement of the State Paper Office in the past
and the red-tapeism of the present time, the former losing to us for ever
most valuable records, the latter placing every obstacle possible in the
way of the documents now remaining being conveniently used by historians,
the publication of the contents thereof greatly helping towards their
future preservation. In our searches at the Public Record Office for the
purpose of this history, we have experienced this inconvenience, and
we certainly consider it should not exist in a Government institution
supported by the public. When we find the authorities at the British
Museum, and the Guildhall, and other repositories open to us, and giving
every facility with their records, which, after all, embrace priceless
treasures and quite as worthy of safe custody, the restrictions placed
upon literary research by the Master of the Rolls and the Record Office
officials is really worthy a Royal Commission of inquiry.

When Henry VII. entered the City in 1485 the Guilds supplied 435 members
to meet the King, and of these ten were Ironmongers. In the year 1504
there was a subscription of the sixty-one Companies, amounting to
313_l._ 16_s._ 8_d._, towards the erection of the kitchen and offices at
Guildhall, and 5_l._ was the sum the Ironmongers gave. It must be borne
in mind that in those days a small sum went a long way.

We now arrive at an interesting period of the Company’s history.
Eight years previous to obtaining their charter of incorporation the
Ironmongers obtained a grant of arms. Both charter and grant have been
repeatedly exhibited and described, and beautiful facsimiles of the
two documents will be found in Mr. G. R. French’s “Catalogue of the
Ironmongers’ Exhibition of Antiquities,” in 1861, a most sumptuously
printed and privately circulated work, and now very scarce.

By warrant dated September 1, the thirty-fourth of Henry VI. (1455),
“Lancastre, Kyng of Armes,” and the College of Arms granted “Unto the
honurable Crafte and felasship of the ffraunchised men of Iremongers of
the Citie of London a token of armes, that is to sey: Silver a cheveron
of Gowles sitte betwene three gaddes of stele of asure, on the cheueron
three swevells of golde: with two lizardes of theire owne kynde encoupled
with gowlys, on the helmet.”

The two lizards on the helmet, it must be borne in mind, represent the
crest. “The Crafte” and their successors were to hold and enjoy these
arms “for evermore,” and the privilege of using a tabard upon all state
occasions. Clarenceux, King at Arms, inspected the original grant in
1530-31, and signed its confirmation, and in 1560 William Hervy, another
Clarenceux, curiously enough upon inspecting the same document, found the
patent “to be without good authoryte,” and therefore, either to ease his
conscience or that of the College, or for the more likely reason to be
mentioned presently, confirms once again the same grant of “armes, helme,
and crest” to “the Corporacon, Company, and Comynalty, and to their
successors for evermore,” to use the same “in shylde banners, standardes,
and otherwyse,” and “without impedyment or interuption of any person or
persons,” for the confirmation of which privilege, already enjoyed for
one hundred years, the Ironmongers’ books, Mr. Nicholl tells us, show
that “Mayster Clarensys” received thirty-seven shillings, and “his svant
for bringing them hom” twelve pence for his own use.

Notwithstanding the official granting and confirmation, another
gentleman from the college, this time the Richmond Herald, inspected
the same document, and he too did the Company the honour in 1634 of
again “confirming” the same grants, so that it is impossible to deny to
the Ironmongers the right and privilege of bearing arms; and one fact
is certain, if ever a Corporation or Brotherhood possessed appropriate
armorials suggestive of their trade it is this Guild, which cannot be
said of the armorial shields of many other City Companies.

Now, we have gone into this matter of the granting of the arms and the
three confirmations beyond the usually allotted space in histories for
the simple reason that one of the most extraordinary circumstances in
connection with heraldic grants has yet to be explained. The Ironmongers’
Company, although possessing a grant which has been thrice confirmed
by the College, and in which the two lizards appear as a crest,
never received from either of the Heralds who were good enough for a
consideration to inspect and confirm an authority which each ought to
have given, to use “supporters” to the armorial shield, or, if the
Company had no right to use them, to inquire the reason why, &c., when
such were assumed.

The Company adopting the supporters, two lizards, as in the crest,
Edmondson, another Herald, in 1780 actually stated in his Heraldic work
that they were given the Company in one of the confirmations! In 1812
the question again came before Garter, King of Arms, when the Collegians
were good enough to say that the Ironmongers might have a “confirmation”
of the supporters upon paying the modest fee of 73_l._ It is needless to
say that the Company declined to pay this (in our opinion) extortionate
demand, and so to this day (as it has exercised from a period long before
this century dawned) the Ironmongers bear their supporters, as only true
citizens should.

It may be interesting to note here that in many armorial shields of
private families there are similarities to that of the Ironmongers’,
except that, in place of the chevron between three gads of steel, there
are a chevron between three billets of wood, and it is particularly
interesting to call attention to the fact that such a coat is to be found
in a seal dated 1359, and still more curious that in the deed on which
this seal appears three ironmongers are mentioned: John Deynes, William
Dikeman, and Henry de Ware. This was nearly a century previous to the
Company receiving a grant of arms.

The lizards, now used by the Ironmongers as crest and supporters, were
also used when naming their manor in Ireland in the reign of James I.,
now known as the “Manor of Lizard,” and about which we shall speak
hereafter. Mr. Herbert, fifty years ago, remarks:—“What are in the arms
termed ‘lizards,’ we may rather imagine were intended to represent
salamanders—a creature supposed, like iron, to live unhurt in fire.”
Pennant says:—“The frolicsome agility of lizards enlivens the dried banks
in hot climates, and the great affection which some of them show to
mankind should further engage our regard and attention.” Another writer
quaintly suggests that the dear little animal not only loves iron, but
likes it hot, eating it with a relish, and digests it with ease. See also
the head-piece to Herbert’s “History.”

Under the armorials is the Company’s motto, and that is, appropriately,
“God is our strength.” It is not known when this was assumed, but
the date is modern, for anciently—at all events, in the seventeenth
century—the Ironmongers’ motto was “Assher Dure,” which a well-known
antiquary translates as “steel endures,” and will be found in the
heraldic volume of Companies’ arms in the British Museum.

A most important step was now taken, which in the history of the Guild
at once entitled it to the style of “worshipful.” In 1463 it obtained a
charter of incorporation. Written in Latin, it is not a lengthy document,
but is interesting, and prettily illuminated in gold and colours, with
the royal arms within the initial letter “E” of Edwardus, and another
shield of the Company’s arms in the margin beneath. Pendant is a fine
specimen of the royal seal of England, circular in size, in green wax,
dated Westminster, March 20, the third year of Edward IV., then 1462,
but, since the alteration of the calendar, now 1463. The King grants: “To
our well-beloved and faithful liegemen all the freemen of the mystery and
art of Iremongers of our City of London and suburbs thereof” the rights
and privileges to be a body corporate for evermore, to have a master and
two wardens (who are named as Richard Flemming, alderman; and Nicholas
Marchall and Robert Toke) and a commonalty, with perpetual succession,
under the name of “the master and keepers or wardens and commonalty of
the mystery or art of Ironmongers of London,” to have a common seal, make
ordinances, to purchase and hold lands and tenements to the value of 10
marks yearly.

The day upon which the Guild received their incorporation charter they,
doubtless, celebrated with all the ceremonials and festivities which we,
400 years afterwards, indulge in to-day, and they recorded in their books
a resolution: “That they shalle holde and kepe the said feste for their
principall fesst, evermore.”

Ironmongers’ Hall in Fenchurch Street will be described in another
chapter, but we may as well state that the site of the present building
was granted in the year 1457 by the executors of Alice Stivard, the widow
of Sir John Stivard, Knight, to the nineteen “citizen and ironmongers”
mentioned (among whom were the three named in the charter), and that
in the Company’s books occurs the entry, “Bought by the for wreten
ffelowshipp and paid fore, and also posesson taken the XX daie of Octobr
the XXXVI yer of King Henry the VI.”

Now, what do our reforming friends in 1889 say to this? There is nothing
said about trusts here. It is as much the Company’s freehold and belongs
to them, the “root and branch” descendants, as ever the commonest article
that may be purchased (and paid for, mark ye!) by any citizen and
working-man to-day. So, in simply quoting the purchase here, we do so to
put all reformers on their guard not to be so ready to make hay (by their
seizure) before the sun shines on assumed or presumed rights.

But we will go a little further. The Company did not buy without legal
aid, for the books show “lernyd counsaile at the purchas makyng” received
not only 26_s._ 8_d._ for their advice and labours, but there was paid
“at taverns dyvers tymes” for refreshments to the same gentlemen the
large sum of 3_s._ 6_d._

Having purchased a house and garden, and regularly gone into
housekeeping, the Ironmongers began their furnishing in humble style.
Among the first articles purchased were the following:—

      x stoles                                       iij_s._  iiij_d._
      i fire forke                                }
      i pʳ tongs                                  }   xj_s._   vij_d._
      i pʳ andyrons                               }
      i rake                                      }
    vij candlestickes                                iij_s._  iiij_d._
      i table and }
     ij tressels  }                                 iiij_s._    vj_d._
      i caudron in a furneys in the kechen                     vij_d._
      i pʳ bed bords in the chamber                             xx_d._
      i water tankard                                         xxij_d._
      i cheste in the boterye, bounded wᵗʰ yron       ij_s._

And the same accounts tell us that “the alderman and the bedill at
ye possessyon takyng” received 2_s._ 6_d._ “For brede and ale at our
possession takyn” 22_d._ was spent, while “barge hyre at twoo tymes” cost
14_s._, but there is no evidence what for, or where to the barges were so

It must not be said that the Worshipful Company of Ironmongers commenced
incorporated existence extravagantly. And we shall be able to show in
our next chapter that, as they began so they continued, careful in the
management of their charity trusts, and frugal in all matters pertaining
to their government.




Although Mr. Alderman Cotton, one of the Parliamentary City Companies’
Commissioners, reported five years ago “that the returns made to the
Commission show conclusively that the members of the Livery Companies
were never exclusively of the trade the name of which was borne by their
Company, and that for about 400 years the larger proportion of the
members have not pretended to follow the crafts of their Companies,”
and that “the Livery Companies are not to be classed with friendly or
benevolent societies, with monastic institutions, or with political
or other clubs, but rather approached the character of a masonic
body, exercising in the past and at the present time a very good and
important moral influence not only upon citizens and City life, but upon
public life generally,” and foremost in the promotion of education and
charitable acts, we shall show that, like many other of the Companies,
the Ironmongers’ has never proved indifferent to its particular trade or
its kindred associations.

It was contended before the Commissioners in 1882 that the whole of the
charters of the Companies are bad because the King parted with his right
to grant charters conferring the right of search. Without attempting to
enter into the question, or debate the correctness of such an assertion,
as only a lawyer could and would in “the good old times,” upon the power
of the sovereign to make a grant which has stood the test of centuries,
no such right is to be found in either of the Ironmongers’ charters. The
records of the Company show that statutory legislation for the protection
and regulation of the iron trade was enacted in the reign of Henry IV.,
Richard III., Henry VIII., and Edward VI., and that on certain occasions
this Company have laid abuses of the trade before the Common Council that
they might deal therewith, this company not having the power in itself.
Amongst its own commonalty only the Ironmongers’ exercised supervision
and control of trading, but as none of the trade joined the Company other
than of their own free will and for their own good, obedience to such
control can only be regarded as voluntary, and not as infringing the
liberty of the subject contrary to the provisions of Magna Charta.

We therefore desire in the present chapter, while giving a chronicle of
the Ironmongers’ progress during the past 400 years, to show that the old
City Guild has a history in many respects peculiarly its own, and that
since its incorporation it has frequently proved most valuable to the
State, the City, and the people.

And yet the Ironmongers as brethren have had their troubles. Witness the
City Sheriff of 1479, Robert Byfield by name and Ironmonger by Company,
who, with Sir Bartholomew James, the then Lord Mayor, attended prayers
at St. Paul’s Cathedral, and had the audacity to kneel too close to
his Civic Majesty. His Lordship chid him for the affront; Mr. Sheriff
resented the scolding, and the end of the extraordinary squabble was
that the Court of Aldermen tried the case, and fined Mr. Byfield, who,
says Stow, “payd 50_l._ towards the water conduits,” one of which, the
great conduit in Cheapside, was then building. Our Sheriff, who resided
in Tower Street, did not long survive the trial, for he died in 1482,
and by his will proved he was far from being unmindful of religious or
charitable influences, for he not only founded a chapel and made many
bequests, but did not forget his poorer brethren in Fenchurch Street.

But not alone and personally have the Ironmongers suffered. Our early
Monarchs appear to have considered the rich and powerful Citizens a fair
field for plunder. While Royalty was privileged to run to excesses, and
by extravagance spent the income their loyal subjects provided, the
Citizens, because they exercised their moral and more business-like
spirit of showing a balance on the right side of the ledger, were made
victims of repeated extortions. It is no use denying, and unjust to deny,
that our Sovereigns have so loved London as to sacrifice their comfort
or their greed by visiting it for other than personal motives, and the
records show but too plainly that Royalty in the past has depended upon
the wealth of “a nation of shopkeepers” for a constant supply of the
“needful.” The Royal draw upon the City purse commenced early in London’s
existence, and great has been the loss to the Citizens; and yet to-day
there are those who still clamour for the extinction of the very source
which has kept the nation alive! Our remarks are not overdrawn, as our
proofs are many—too many, in fact, to be detailed at large. One or two
must suffice now.

Beginning, then, more than 350 years ago, King Henry VIII. set a bad
example to his descendants. Having asked the City for 20,000_l._—only as
a loan, of course—in the year 1523, he, the more readily to raise it,
“comandyed to have all the money and platt that was belonging to every
hawlle or craft,” and so the poor Ironmongers had to pay up among the
other Companies. The book sorrowfully records, “At the whyche comandmentt
he had all oure money,” and that amounting to only 25_l._ 1_s._ 2_d._,
the plate was pawned or sold, realising 46_l._ more, or a total of 71_l._
14_s._ 2_d._; and even then, not being satisfied, twenty of the richest
members of the Company “lent” him out of their own pockets something like
190_l._, “Mr. Willm Denham oure Warden” heading the list with 30_l._ We
hope he was repaid, but we doubt it.

The King having obtained this “little loan” so easily did not forget
to be “a suitor” to the City again; but the next time the Ironmongers
went to the Pawnbrokers was in 1544, when they “layd to plege, the xxij.
day of May,” their ewers, salts, and cups, to provide “xiiij. men in
harnes to goe over the see wᵗʰ the Kyngs army in to France, that was
iiij. bowmen and x. byll men” fully equipped for service. Now we do
not intend to quote every occasion when the Sovereign borrowed money,
but a few selected cases will tell the tale. In 1575 a precept from
the Lord Mayor commanded the Company to assist the Queen’s demand by
paying 60_l._, coolly adding, “if youe have not soe moche in store then
you shale borrowe the same at ynterest at thonly costs and lossis of
yoʳ hall.” Next year the Queen commanded the City to raise and hold
in readiness for her 140,000_l._, and a few years later, in 1588, the
celebrated Armada year, when every county in England lent its thousands
to assist in the defence of the nation, and the Companies of the City
advanced 51,900_l._, we find the Ironmongers’ proportion was 2,300_l._
(“The City Guilds Subscription Lists,” in “The Western Antiquary,” May,
1888), raised among fourteen of the wealthiest members. In 1598 the
Queen’s Privy Council sent for 20,000_l._ more, and the Ironmongers lent
880_l._ In 1614, the treasury being empty, and Parliament dissolved,
the King asked for 100,000_l._; but the City was far from prosperous
that year. Government demands, the Ulster and Virginia plantations,
and other calls had drained the City purse; and it was only after
several meetings that the Ironmongers obliged His Majesty by making “a
benevolence” of 179_l._ And when, in 1620, another demand was made, and
the Company granted 170_l._, the members were compelled for a time to
be so economical that not only were all their dinners stopped, but they
actually fined each other so that the current expenses could be paid. And
still the obnoxious and oppressive precepts poured in. In 1627, in 1628,
in 1630, the citizens were truly “dearly beloved” to the King, and when,
in 1640 and 1642, the Parliamentary demands for another trifling “loan”
of 100,000_l._ made matters more and more disheartening, the Ironmongers
were forced to part with 3,400_l._, and another advance a little later
made the Government a debtor to the Company in the year 1652 of no less
a sum than 9,536_l._ 3_s._ 7_d._ If we calculate what was owing to the
other Corporations at the same time at only half this sum each, is it
to be wondered at that there were civil wars, or that the extravagances
of the “Merry Monarch” and his saintly brother James brought about in
succession the shutting up of the Exchequer and the revolution of two
centuries ago?

The Ironmongers had all along proved to be such true friends to the State
that they found out to their cost, and too late, that they had not been
true to themselves. Their account with the Government and their Royal
masters of fifty years before still remained unsettled, and to so low a
pitch had their exchequer fallen that in 1691 they were again compelled
to pawn their plate for 253_l._, and no longer trust to the promises or
bonds of their debtors. And so, striking off the balance of 5,000_l._
as a bad debt, they determined in future to trust only those who were
trustworthy. But even the loss or money, and having to pawn their plate
and valuables, were not their only troubles. The harassing demands of the
State at times were so oppressive that it makes us wonder the City did
not revolt sooner than it did and shut its gates to tyranny as Derry did
in 1688. Only one example of oppression need I give here. In 1675 the
Hearth Tax collector called in Fenchurch Street and demanded 4_l._ 16_s._
for “chimney money” for two empty houses, belonging to the Company, then
standing between the present Queen Victoria and Thames Streets. The
Ironmongers declined to pay the demand, whereupon (says the record) “he
(the collector) did, wᵗʰ his consorts and constable, goe upp into the
hall and took away one of the Company’s salts.” This was distressing with
a vengeance, everyone will admit, and, notwithstanding that we think
empty houses to-day should pay their share of taxation and thus lighten
parochial rates, we do not advocate the sharp practice of King Charles’s

Let us now take a rapid review of the Company’s history as applicable
to the trade. If they did not possess the right of search or the power
over the trade generally, like some of the other Guilds, they by advice
and action with the Corporation and Companies have upon many occasions
proved most beneficial and valuable. The earliest ordinances of the Guild
are of the date 1498. They provide for the elections of the Master and
Wardens “wᵗʰ tokens of garlands on their heds,” the charge of purchasing
“clothing or lyvery” for the brotherhood at the drapers’ shops at
Blackwell Hall (on or near the site of the present Guildhall Library);
the settling of the dinners, when the member paid 2_s._, “and for the wyf
if she be att the dyner xii_d._” (which is not an ironmonger’s wife’s
privilege at the present time); those freemen warned to attend the Hall
and disobeying to be fined 4_d._, and the wardens 2_s._; none to offer
insult to their brethren; “no member to sue a brother for debt without
leave of the wardens”; apprentices to be admitted to the fellowship
“having served his tyme well and truly”; “straungers or foreigners (that
is to say, those not already of the City) may be elected if introduced
by four creditable liverymen”; “the Wardens, once in every two years at
least, to search all manner of weights and measures that be used in the
same felashippe, and when they find any default to levy fines at the
discression of the master and wardens”; apprentices to be enrolled at
Guildhall within the first year, and to be registered in the Company’s
book; “no person in the felashippe shall take noon apprentice excepte he
have sewertie and bond for him in Cˡⁱ sterling”; and no apprentice to
be “under 14 years of age, and for no lesse terme than X yeres, except
it be his first apprentice taken for necessitee, and for him he shel ax
licence of the wardeyns,” and every apprentice his master shall advise
to be “resonable and honest,” and shall see that he have clean and sound
“hosyn, doblett, shirtis, and other necessaries,” ... “to kepe hym
from colde and wete,” and by no means to suffer “his here to growe to
long.” Finally, every member of the fellowship, whether in or out of the
clothing (that is to say, liveryman or freeman), was required “to appear
iiij. tymes in the yeere at the foure principal Courts, and these iiij.
Courts ben ordeyned alway to endure to Goddes pleasir principally, and
to redresse the maters that be not wele used, and to kepe pece and gode
rewle among us,” and at these Courts all arrearages were to be paid—the
master, 12_d._; the present or past wardens, 8_d._; the clothing (or
liveryman), 6_d._; and the yeomanry (or freeman), 4_d._; and the wardens
not to see the yeomanry decay.

Such then is an abstract of the earliest ordinances of the Ironmongers.
At the present time the Company consists of a master, two wardens, the
livery (all of whom comprise the Court, and, therefore, unlike any other
City Company, who have a livery and a court of assistants as well), and
the yeomanry, or freemen generally, over which presides a warden chosen
by and from themselves at Easter, yearly. Of these we shall speak in
another chapter.

The ordinances were revised and approved by the Lord Chancellor and
Justices in February 1581, when the rules were either modified or
extended. The elections are set forth; the four quarterly courts were
settled, and at which the master paid his quarterage money of 16_d._;
the warden, 12_d._; the liveryman, 9_d._ and the freemen, 4_d._ The
apprentice always to be of the age not exceeding twenty-four when his
term expired. The stranger or foreigner when admitted to pay 20_l._ The
search of weights and measures to be once a year, or oftener, in the
shops of the fellowship, and false ones destroyed, and fines of 40_s._ to
the Company to be inflicted. Other special ordinances will be alluded to
in another chapter.

The Company in 1549 interested themselves in the passing of the Act
against the forging of iron gads instead of gads of steel, and six years
later there are several entries relating to the coal meterage, which
the Company had to superintend until the reign of James I. In 1557,
when the rules of the newly-founded Bridewell at Blackfriars were made,
and to which prison rogues and apprentices formerly, and of late years
unmanageable City apprentices only, have been sent by the Chamberlain,
it was specially provided in the governing of “the nail-house” that “to
you is given authority to make sale of all such nayls as shall be made
in this house, so the same be done according to the order taken with the
Company of Ironmongers, which is, that (they giving to this house as the
people of the same may by their travail reasonably live) shall before all
men have all the nails that are made therein, and have one month’s day
of payment for the same.” An inventory of all iron and nails, smithies,
hammers, anvils, bellows, and tools to be truly kept, &c., and proper
workmen appointed to oversee the idle apprentices’ work. In 1579 there
were at Bridewell what in 1597 were called “art masters,” or those who
had charge of trade apprentices, and among these were the naylors and
pinmakers. In 1598 “Spanish needles” were made in the prison; in 1602 the
pinners’ boys numbered fourteen, and in 1604 there were to be forty.

In the first year of Queen Elizabeth, 1558, the new Timber Act received
special consideration from the Company, for it concerned the ironworks.
In 1561 they took action against one of the freemen, Clement Cornwall,
about whom a complaint was lodged for selling inferior goods at Lewes
Fair, and three years later, at the instance of the yeomanry, the
Court ordered that at fairs or elsewhere their members must sell nails
six score to the hundred, and not five score as formerly. In 1569 the
Founders’ Company fell out with the wardens of the Ironmongers’, which
was settled by the aldermen, and ten years later three members of each
Company of Ironmongers and Grocers were ordered to attend between the
hours of 7 A.M. and 6 P.M. at the Bishop Gate of the City, to inspect
and search every person and see that their “apparil, swords, daggers,
or bucklers, wᵗ long pikes, great ruffs or long cloakes, or carry thear
swordes close under their armes or the poyntes upward” were as by the
late proclamation provided. In 1612 the Ironmongers, Blacksmiths, and
Carpenters had many meetings, and passed special resolutions jointly on
the then serious question of the importation of rod iron and a newly
granted patent, and it is interesting to note that the then senior
warden of the Company was the young gentleman who misbehaved himself at
Lewes Fair in 1561, as already mentioned. In 1623 the Cutlers joined
the Ironmongers, and obtained from the Corporation the by-law that all
strangers or others should be compelled, as heretofore, to bring cutlery
and iron wares to Leadenhall to be examined. This new by-law caused the
Corporation and Companies much trouble to carry out, but it continued a
City ordinance down to the year 1665.

In 1636 another trouble arose. A petition to the King by the shipwrights
complained of the making of nails “of the worst iron, of lesse weight,
strength and goodnes then in former tyme.” As the petitioners stated
the deceits were committed by “wholesale men who employed poor smiths,”
there was evidently a case of “sweating” in those days. For this the
Company were called upon to appear before the Privy Council, where, of
course, they would plead that they had no power over the trade generally.
Four years afterwards the old complaint of the strangers, Leadenhall,
underselling, &c., the Ironmongers were brought before the Corporation,
and it was ordered that the Company should, when necessary, take
possession, &c. The same year, too, the Company had to take notice of a
monopoly granted by the King to his gunfounder, of cast-iron goods, which
the Company were fortunate enough to get “called in and overthrown.” In
1657 John Richardson, a pinmaker by trade and Ironmonger by Company,
prayed to be translated to the newly-formed Company of Pinmakers; but
as by his copy of freedom he was to hold chiefly of the fellowship of
Ironmongers, the Court of the Company refused assent. This custom is a
peculiar one to the Ironmongers, and has often proved a bar to progress
to those desiring to join other Guilds where promotion is more rapid.



It has been asserted by some of the most violent opposers to the
Corporation of London and the City Guilds that the Companies are part
and parcel of the Corporation, that they were incorporated for the
special benefit of the trades the names of which they are known by, that
they once were, and should still be, solely composed of such trades’
members, and their property devoted to the artisans of such trades. Now,
with all due respect to such arguments and those who may argue on these
grounds, we must at once point out what is always considered to be the
most sensible view of the question—that circumstances alter cases, and
the merits of each case deserve to be considered separately. Were it
otherwise there would be at once an end of our freedom and birthright,
Magna Charta, and everything else.

In our previous chapters we have shown that the Ironmongers’ charter
makes no mention of the Guild as specially incorporated for trade
purposes or for the trade’s sole benefit, and that the earliest by-laws
simply conferred the right of search and inspecting all weights and
measures “used in the same feloshippe,” and consequently did not apply
to the trade in general. In fact there was, and still remains, no
compulsion upon an ironmonger to join the Company, although in ancient
times, by charter-rights, he would be compelled to become a freeman of
the City, which, as we have already stated, did not constitute him free
of a Company as well. The Ironmongers’ charter was confirmed by Philip
and Mary, June 20, 1558; by Queen Elizabeth, November 12, 1560; by James
I., June 25, 1604; and by James II., November 19, 1687. The grant of this
last-mentioned letters patent was made to the Companies generally after
the stormy events of the previous four years, and as some reparation for
the gross injustice done to his subjects by Charles II., when, under
the power of the writ of _quo warranto_, he seized the City charters
and disfranchised the very men who had been his best friends. This act
of the “Merry Monarch,” and the shutting up of the Exchequer, the ruin
of the goldsmiths and bankers, and the continuous oppression of the
citizens by his brother James brought about sooner than royalty expected
the destruction of the King, “the glorious Revolution of 1688,” and the
accession of William III. on December 12 of that year, from which time,
and by special Act in his second year, the Companies have been restored
to their ancient position and privileges. And we firmly believe the
lessons then learnt by the partisans of Charles and James, and handed
down to their descendants, have not been forgotten by those still living
in the Jubilee year of Queen Victoria. In addition to these special
charters there was yet another grant made, which, as regards their
estates, is a complete answer to those who to-day say the Ironmongers’
property is not their own. It is “a perpetuitie” made to them and their
successors for ever by James I., dated August 4, 1619.

OF 1629. (See pages 33-35.)

(See page 55.)]

Exactly 300 years ago the ancient City of Chester was represented in its
Mayoralty chair by an ironmonger, whose son upset the good people of the
City by retailing ironmongers’ wares, to the prejudice of the Citizens,
who, by a grant from Queen Elizabeth in 1561, had been exempted from a
duty of 2_s._ per ton upon iron imported there. And in the same year of
1589 one Peter Newall, or Newgall, an assistant to his father-in-law,
Mr. Bavand, who appears to have enjoyed the distinction of being “an
ironmonger, a vintner, a mercer, and a retayler of manye comodities,”
complained that David Lloyd, “a retaylinge draper,” had “usurped the
name of merchant,” for which wrongdoing the Privy Council, the Secretary
of State, the Master of the Rolls, and all the machinery of the law was
set in motion that “the drifte of the said Lloyd shalbe ripte upp and
viewed into,” and the injury to the Citizens repaired. In Buckingham,
both in 1691 and 1706, two members of the Blunt family were admitted into
the Mercers’ Company “to follow the trade of an ironmonger,” and both
gentlemen were subsequently Wardens of their Company. Others, too, were
admitted to follow other trades.

Mr. Herbert, the Guildhall Librarian, in his Historical Essay on the City
Companies, published fifty years ago, sums up the exactions on the Guilds
by the reigning powers in these words:—“Contributions towards setting the
poor to work, towards erecting the Royal Exchange, towards cleansing the
City ditch, and towards projects of discovering new countries; money for
furnishing military and naval armaments; for men, arms, and ammunition
to protect the City; for State and City pageants and attendances; for
provision of coal and corn, compulsory loans, State lotteries, monopolous
patents, concealments, seditious publications and practices, and twenty
other sponging expedients were among the more prominent of the engines
by which that ‘mother of her people,’ Elizabeth, and afterwards James
and Charles, contrived to screw from the Companies their wealth.” And
J. P. Malcolm, in the second volume of his “Londinium Redivivum,” 1803,
when giving his most valuable extracts from the Ironmongers’ books (and
who speaks of Mr. Sumner, the then clerk of the Guild’s “politeness
and attention worthy of an enlightened man,” and so totally different
to some other of the Companies’ clerks), remarks “that specie in their
hands possessed the faculty of attracting clouds of precepts, and that,
if the Company were lavish, the Crown was always ready to receive.” Our
last chapter proves the case, but a few more entries of another kind will
confirm the views expressed.

In 1562 the Ironmongers were called upon to provide without delay
nineteen “good appte and talle persones to be souldiers,” each of whom
was to be provided with “corsletts and weaponed with pykes and billes.”
This demand meant that if none of the Company’s members cared to serve,
then they were to find some other men that would, and accordingly
liverymen and yeomen had to assist out of their own pockets to meet
the charge. Four years later three more soldiers were provided by the
Company out of the 100 fully-armed ordered away from the City for service
in Ireland; and, in 1569, no less than twenty-eight “men of honeste
behaviour” had to be found “to march against the rebells in the north.”
A few years later, in 1577, the demand increased, for an order came for
100 “able men, apprentices, journeymen, or others free of the City, of
agilitie or honest behaviour,” between nineteen and forty years of age,
and fully armed, for, says Malcolm in his quaint way, “the noble art
of man-killing.” The instructions issued out to these “volunteers” are
extremely curious to read, for nothing is said in them about evolutions,
advancing, retreating, or formation into columns or squares or divisions;
and, what is more notable, each man must have been in danger every moment
of being blown into the air by his own powder! In 1579 the Ironmongers’
proportion of the 3,000 men wanted of the City for the defence of the
realm was 110, of which 72 were to be provided with “shott, calvyʳ,
flask, toche, murryn, sword, and dagger, and a pound of powder,” and 38
with “pikes, corslett, sword, and daggʳ.” The Armada year of 1588, and
the call to arms upon that occasion will be found fully described in the
“Historical Essay,” printed in 1886; but in 1591, in order to provide the
7,000_l._ required for manning the navy, the Ironmongers lent 344_l._,
having two years previous received notice to have ready 1,920 lbs. of
powder. In 1643, when the Committee at Guildhall sent a polite request
to Ironmongers’ Hall desiring that fifty barrels of gunpowder should be
stored there as “a place of safety,” the Company politely returned answer
that they could not oblige, for not only want of room, but that their
tenants next door, having Spaniards, Dutchmen, and Frenchmen lodging in
the house, might be placed in danger of no ordinary kind.

In 1596 the Companies were charged with 3,500_l._ for providing twelve
ships, two pinnaces, and 1,200 men, and the Ironmongers lent 172_l._ The
next demand made for ships or men was in the year 1639, when 1,000_l._
was raised. Readers of history will recollect the case of John Hampden
and the “Ship Money” impost, and the Companies’ books prove too truly the
repeated extortions. The demand on the Ironmongers’ for men alone in the
forty years previous to 1600 was something like 300, besides their full
equipments, and when we reckon the money lent, the powder provided the
other calls upon their purse, it will be fully understood that the good
old times with this Company were none of the happiest.

We will now mention another branch of the City Companies’ “business”—the
coal and corn custom. The object was twofold: to supply the poor in times
of scarcity at a cheap rate, and to defeat the combinations of dealers.
And yet, laudable as the custom was, it is astonishing to find from the
results that much imposition was inflicted upon the Companies, and that
the demands for storage poured in as fast as the money precepts did.
As early as 1605 the Ironmongers agreed “to provide a shipp to fetch
sea coles from Newcastle, as other of the twelve Companies intende”;
and in 1665 (the Plague year) they laid up 255 chaldrons, all the
other Companies laying in quantities in proportion. And here we cannot
omit to mention one of the bequests made by a worthy benefactor to the
Ironmongers’ Company. Margaret Dane, the wife of Alderman William Dane
(Sheriff 1569, and twice Master of his Company), by her will, dated in
1579, left in trust to the Company (among other munificent bequests)
sufficient money to provide every year 12,000 faggots to be distributed
among the poor of each of the twenty-four City Wards, to be used by such
poor persons “as fuel to keep them warm.” To this day this bequest of
three centuries ago is carried out by the company, a certain sum being
distributed to each ward. But it will hardly be believed when we state
that the opponents to the City Companies have gone out of their way to
magnify this praiseworthy bequest into the horrible tale that this good
lady left 12,000 faggots yearly to be used for the burning of heretics!

The provision of corn commenced as early as 1521, and continued until
the period of the Great Fire in 1666, when, the Companies’ mills and
granaries being destroyed, the custom ceased, and was not afterwards
renewed. In 1579 eight ironmongers were deputed to go to all the City
markets and “set the price of meale”; in 1608 the Company was assessed at
88_l._ towards erecting the granaries at Bridewell, and another 88_l._
the following year. Yearly provisioning the markets at Leadenhall, at
Queenhithe, and elsewhere continued until 1649, when the Company pleaded
that, through being “disabled in their estate,” they really were unable
to meet the Lord Mayor’s demand. A complete summary of this City corn
custom will be found in Herbert’s “History of the Companies,” vol. i.,
pp. 132-150.

We will mention a few of the “Miscellaneous” precepts which the company
were favoured with from time to time. In 1565-66 they subscribed
among themselves 100_l._ towards “the building of the new Burse”—the
first Royal Exchange. They made loans to Yarmouth (1577), Bury St.
Edmunds (1637), and Gloucester (1643) to help those places in their
difficulties. They made a benevolence in 1604 of 40_s._ to Messrs.
Chandler & Parkhurst, for having procured the passing in Parliament of
the Bankruptcy Act, “a matter verie beneficiall to yᵉ comonwealth.” In
1631 they agreed to subscribe 20_l._ a year for five years towards the
repairing of St. Paul’s Cathedral, and again on the rebuilding, after the
fire of London, in 1666, they, as individual members, were benefactors.
In 1694 they gave 40_s._ to a Greek presbyter of Larissa to help him to
get back to his country; in fact, such donations frequently occur in the
books. Mr. Nicholl remarks: “Not only are the City Companies called upon
to relieve the necessities of private indigence, but there is scarcely
any public charity whatever whose petitions for aid are not laid before

In the beginning of the reign of James I. (1608-14) the Company, with
others, adventured in the New Virginia Plantation Scheme, “to ease the
Cittie and suburbs of a swarme of unnecessarie inmates as a continuall
cause of dearth and famine, and the verie origenall of all plagues.” In
1609 the King offered to the City of London the waste lands in Ulster
as another plantation scheme. This, the wisest act of His Majesty, was
accepted, and the Ironmongers (among other City Companies) became thus
possessed by actual purchase (as shall be shown hereafter) of their Irish
estate—the Manor of Lizard. In 1625-27 the Company lent, or advanced,
money to the East India Company, and in 1633 to the Greenland Company. It
must be mentioned here that, having subscribed to the Virginia Lottery,
Captain John Smith subsequently presented to the Company copies of four
of his books, all of which, unfortunately, are now missing. As the
copies contained dedications (in MS.?) the loss is to be much deplored.

We now turn to more joyful matters—pageantry. The Ironmongers were not
behind in any of these. So long ago as 1483 ten of the Company (with
proportions from other companies), dressed in murrey-coloured coats,
rode to meet the King on his entering the City, and at the subsequent
coronation, when the Lord Mayor (Sir Edmund Shaa, goldsmith, and Alderman
of Cheap Ward, the same ward over which the present Lord Mayor in 1889
presides) acted as chief butler at the feast, and received from the King
and Queen the wine-cups used by them as his fee, Alderman Thomas Breten,
Ironmonger, assisted his lordship in his duties. At most of the Royal
visits and coronations, and such like festivities, the Company, with
others, always had their “standing” and precedency, and in this respect
the “place” was much contested. A proof occurs in the history of the
dispute between the Skinners and Merchant Taylors in 1484. Upon appeal
to the Lord Mayor “for norishing of peas and love,” he decreed that from
henceforth the Skinners should dine with the Merchant Taylors at their
hall one year, and the Merchant Taylors at Skinners’ Hall the next year,
and so yearly alternately for ever should each company have precedence.
And for 400 years has this most excellent decree been celebrated yearly,
each Company toasting in the other’s hall their “root and branch,” and
wishing them “to flourish for ever.”

In 1541, when Queen Anne Bullen came from Greenwich by water to
Westminster, the Company of Ironmongers spent no less than 9_l._ on
the festivity. Their barge cost 26_s._ 8_d._, and their provisions
included gurnets, fresh salmon, eels, bread and cheese, wine, claret,
and a kilderkin of ale. A reference to Nichols’s “London Pageants,” or
his “Progresses” of Queen Elizabeth and James I., will tell in full the
interesting character of these City shows, and the gorgeous displays made
by the citizens, who then, as now, never were niggardly in their tokens
of welcome. One of the most curious of these outdoor scenes was “the
setting of the marching watch,” when 2,000 persons, apparelled in holiday
costume, with 700 lighted cressets, borne aloft, paraded the City. A
description of a visit by Henry VIII., dressed in the costume of one of
his own guards, will be found in the first volume of Knight’s “London.”
The last entry in the Ironmongers’ books is dated 1567, but an account
of expenses a quarter of a century earlier shows that 800 cresset lights
cost 2_s._ 4_d._ per 100; a dozen straw hats, 12_d._; armourer, 6_s._ The
Company’s banquet cost 36_s._ Among the items of the feast were: A peece
of beef, 4_d._; a breast of veel, 7_d._; a neck and breast of mutton,
6_d._; a goose, 9_d._; four rabbits, 1_s._; bread, 6_d._; butter, 1½_d._;
water, 1_d._ The cook and two assistants, 7_d._; six gallons of wine,
7_s._; and a gallon of ale, 2_d._

Lord Mayor’s Day and the Lord Mayor’s Show was another City festival
red letter day from early times. Until the year 1752, when the Act for
altering the calendar came into force, the presentation of the Lord Mayor
took place on October 29, but since that year it has been November 9. Sir
John Norman, “Draper,” in 1452, was the first chief magistrate to go to
Westminster by water; Lord Mayor Finnis, in 1856, the last. Most of the
Lord Mayors have had their shows, the pageantry at which has been most
elaborate, especially during the seventeenth century. The following is a
complete list of the “Ironmonger” Lord Mayors:—

    1409-10 } Sir Richard Marlow
    1417-18 }
    1442-43   Sir John Hatherley
    1566-67   Sir Christopher Draper
    1569-70   Sir Alexander Avenon
    1581-82   Sir James Harvey
    1592-93   Sir William Rowe
    1609-10   Sir Thomas Cambell
    1618-19   Sir Sebastian Harvey
    1629-30   Sir James Cambell
    1635-36   Sir Christopher Cletherow
    1685-86   Sir Robert Geffery
    1714-15   Sir William Humfreys, Bart.
    1719-20   Sir George Thorold, Bart.
    1741-42   Sir Robert Godschall (who died in his mayoralty on June
                  26, 1742)
    1749-50   Sir Samuel Pennant (who died in his mayoralty on May
                  20, 1750)
    1751-52   Robert Alsop (elected upon the death of Thomas Winterbottom,
                  June 4, 1751)
    1762-63 } William Beckford (died June 21, 1770; see his monument
    1769-70 }     in Guildhall)
    1802-03   Sir Charles Price, Bart.
    1810-11   J. J. Smith, Esq. (Lord Nelson’s executor)
    1828-29   William Thompson, Esq.

As we have already stated, some of the early Lord Mayor’s Shows were
elaborate, and illustrative of the Company’s trade name. They will
be found chronicled in Nichols’s “Pageants” and in Fairholt’s “Lord
Mayor’s Day Pageants” (Percy Society, 1843-45). The Guildhall Banquet
tickets during the past 100 years have been exceedingly interesting as
specimens of design and printing, the early ones being by Bartolozzi
and his school. A nearly complete set is in our own collection, those
at Guildhall, strangely enough, only dating back some fifty years, the
reason being that the show and banquet has always been the private and
personal festival of the Lord Mayor and two Sheriffs, the former paying
a moiety of the expenses, the total generally ranging from 2,000_l._ to
3,000_l._ It is, therefore, a vulgar error to suppose that the Citizens
and ratepayers are taxed a penny.

The earliest notice of the Pageantry in the Ironmongers’ books is
1566, but the most complete account is that at the inauguration of Sir
James Cambell, 1629, which was compiled by Thomas Dekker, and entitled
“London’s Tempe.” It cost the Company 180_l._ There were six elaborately
“got up” pageants representing: for the water a sea lion and two sea
horses, and for the land an estridge, Lemnion’s Forge, Tempe or the
Field of Hapines, and Apollo’s Palace representing the seven liberal
sciences. The fourth or trade pageant is worth quoting. It is described
as “The Lemnion Forge.” In it are Vulcan the Smith of Lemnos, with his
servants (the Cyclopes), whose names are Pyracmon, Brontes, and Sceropes,
working at the anvile. “Their habite are wastcoates and leather aprons,
their hair black and shaggy, in knotted curles. A fire is seene in the
forge, bellowes blowing, some filing, some at other workes; thunder and
lightning on occasion. As the smithes are at worke they singe in praise
of iron, the anvile, and hammer, by the concordant stroakes and soundes
of which Tuball Cayne became the first inventor of musicke.”

    Brave iron! brave hammer! from your sound
    The art of Musicke has her ground;
    On the anvile thou keep’st time,
    Thy knick-a-knock is a smithes best chyme.

In proper places sit Cupid and Jove, Vulcan and Jove alternately singing
praises, the song ending thus:—

                    Brave Iron! what praise
    Deserves it! more tis beate more it obeyes;
    The more it suffers, more it smoothes offence;
    In drudgery it shines with patience.
    This fellowshipp was then with judging eyes
    United to the Twelve great Companies:
    It being farre more worthy than to fill
    A file inferiour. Yon’s the Sun’s guilt hill;
    On to’ot! Love guardes you on! Cyclopes, a ring
    Make with your hammers, to whose musicke sing.



The Lord Mayor’s Show of the olden time, unlike the annual carnival of
the latter half of the nineteenth century, was in reality illustrative
of the trade to which (by Company) the chief magistrate belonged, and
notwithstanding the prejudices against pageantry at the present time, we
are staunch advocates for some annual popular display whereby the rising
generation of our great City may, like the apprentices of old London,
have visible proof that the Lord Mayor is a reality and not invisible to
his subjects, and that if they will only put their shoulder to the wheel
and emulate Hogarth’s industrious apprentice they in time stand the best
chance of living in a big house, riding in a gilt coach, and wearing that
big gold chain which yearly makes their appetites so keen and their eyes
glisten with delight.

These Lord Mayor pageants of the seventeenth century were, as we have
stated, partly a show on the Thames and partly a show in the City
streets. Designed by the City poet of the period, the descriptions were
usually printed in a small volume and circulated among the Lord Mayor’s
friends and the members of the company. Probably the largest volume on
the subject is the reprint of the Fishmongers’ pageant of 1616, edited
by J. G. Nichols in 1844, a large folio with twelve illustrations,
_facsimiles_ of the original drawings. Our own copy of this work belonged
to Mr. Recorder Gurney, and has the plates beautifully hand-painted and
illuminated. And the smallest book upon so great a subject is a 32-paged
duodecimo entitled “The Lord Mayor of London: a Sketch of the Origin,
History, and Antiquity of the Office,” printed in 1860, and containing,
as we believe, every fact to that date worth knowing about the office.

There are two items in connection with the 1629 show which must not be
omitted. That “gentle angler,” Izaak Walton, a City apprentice who had
been admitted a member of the Ironmongers’ Company eleven years before,
on November 12, 1618, was one of the thirty-two members of the yeomanry
who took part in the pageant. The “Sea Lion” and the “Estridge,” after
the day’s ceremony was over, were brought in state to Ironmongers’
Hall, “to be sett upp for the Company’s use.” We do not know how long
the lion remained so proudly exalted, but certainly not so long as the
world-renowned relic still called the “original” dagger with which “brave
Walworth knight Wat Tyler slew” in 1381, and which, after being carried
in many a Fishmongers’ pageant, rests at the present time in a glass case
in Fishmongers’ Hall. The carved-wood ostrich still exists.


“The Blessed Virgin Mary in Glory.”

(See page 55.)]

The same year that Walton was admitted to the freedom (1618) the
Ironmongers’ pageant, exhibited a few days previous, and at which,
of course, he was unable to be a representative member, was devised
by Anthony Munday. There were three special attractions—an ironmine,
an ostrich (which eats brass and iron to help its digestion!), and a
leopard, the latter a compliment to the Lord Mayor, whose arms bore three
leopards’ heads, and whose crest was a leopard. The cost of these was
103_l._ Some of the payments are curious to read:—Six green (wood) men,
with four assistants, who threw up fireworks as they marched along, cost
8_l._ 10_s._; two men-of-war ships cost 30_l._; 120 chambers or small
cannon, 34_l._, with “4 lbs. of almond comfits put in the bullets in
the cannon,” 4_s._; banners and streamers, 36_l._; “a new antient staff
with faire guilt head,” 6_s._ 8_d._; thirty-two trumpeters, 24_l._;
taffety sarsnet, cloth, fringe, &c., 45_l._; “meat for the children’s
breakfast,” 42_s._; and marshalling the show, 3_l._ 6_s._ 8_d._ Last, but
not least, there was such a gigantic operation performed that it reads
like a Chicago event of to-day—“Removing the iron myne to the hall, 2_s._
8_d._”! The next Ironmongers’ trade pageant (1635) cost 180_l._

The last Lord Mayor’s Show of the seventeenth century which the
Ironmongers specially connected themselves with was that of Sir
Robert Geffery in 1685, and who subsequently proved himself “a worthy
benefactor” to the Company and the founder of their almshouses. It was
designed by Matthew Taubman, and cost 473_l._ In his opening speech the
author reminds us:—

“Though poets place the Iron Age the last, it had certainly a being and
was of use before silver or gold had a value among the ancients. To
calculate the original founders we must go further than Tubal Cain; nor
is it probable the first Cain built such a vast city without materials
and instruments proper for so great a design in opening the quarries and
diving into the stony bowels of the earth. As the mystery of iron-working
is most ancient, so is it most useful to the State, and most profitable
to the merchant and artificer. Iron, for the universality of its use, may
be called the efficient matter of all other mysteries, being either an
ingredient or necessary instrument in all arts and professions. Take away
the use of iron, all trading must cease.”

Taubman devised this “London’s Annual Triumph,” as he called it, in
four pageants. The first exhibited a pyramid, on which was placed the
Company’s founder, King Edward the Fourth, with Victory associated with
Vigilance, Courage, and Conduct, and those four beautiful virgins,
Triumph, Honour, Peace, and Plenty; the second pageant was a sea chariot;
the third, a triumphal arch of loyalty, upon which was exalted Fame,
supported by Truth, Union, and Concord; the fourth (or trade) pageant
represented the Mountain of Ætna casting forth its sulphurous matter,
with Vulcan, hammer in hand, at his anvil, attended by three Cyclops,
also at anvils, answering Brontes, Steropes, and Pyracmon, who were
forging thunderbolts for Jove and heads of arrows for Cupid. Amidst all
the din of music and noise of the smiths were to be seen attendants
throwing up ore from an ironmine, at the entrance to which stood
Polypheme, a great giant, with only one eye, and that in the middle of
his forehead, who, with a huge iron bar in one hand and a sword in the
other, kept guard “to prevent all others but the Right Worshipful the
Company of Ironmongers (whose peculiar prerogative it is) to enter.”
Every figure in the pageant acted well his part, and Vulcan and Apollo
probably took the lead, for Vulcan, addressing the Lord Mayor, sang:—

    Here, sir, in iron mines of sulphurous earth,
    Where smoak and fiery vapours take their birth,
    We forge out thunderbolts for incenced Jove,
    And heads of arrows for the God of Love.

Victory declaring:—

    Against cold ir’n no armour can prevail;
    There’s no resistance in a coat of male.

At the subsequent Guildhall banquet was sung the Company’s song in praise
of iron, and this was followed by another specially prepared to greet the
King (James the Second), who was present.

It was nothing out of the way in those times for Royalty to dine with the
citizens, with whom both kings and queens were “hale fellows well met.”
The State papers and the Royal letters prove to the hilt that in a great
many instances the citizens would have preferred their room to their
company. The best anecdote belongs to the “merry monarch” Charles II.,
who, dining at Guildhall, so “hobnob’d” with the Lord Mayor that they
did not know “the other from which.” The King, however, managed to leave
without ceremony, and was just getting into his coach in Guildhall Yard
when my Lord Mayor, discovering his loss, overtook him, and begged “Mr.
King” to return and “take t’other bottle,” which, no doubt, he did, not
forgetting a few days later to send to my lord his little bill for the
usual loan!

In recent years the City Companies have taken up the question of
technical education, and it cannot be denied that in many instances
they have excelled themselves in this most praiseworthy work. If any
reform is wanted, both Royalty and Government are the last to do it, but
with the City Guilds, notwithstanding what is said against them, they
have been found to the fore when anything beneficial to the people is
required to be carried out, although in many instances they have neither
been compelled to do it nor has it been beneficial to themselves in
particular. From time to time the Companies had subscribed largely to
the charities, &c., of societies not always of their special trade; but
in January, 1860, the Painters’ Stainers’ Company took the lead in quite
another direction by giving notice that in June following they would
hold an exhibition of decorative works at their Hall in Little Trinity
Lane, Cannon Street. There were thirty-five exhibitors, and this, the
first exhibition of its kind, proving eminently successful, was held
again the following year, and has been repeated upon many occasions
since. The next Company’s announcement was that of the Ironmongers, who
held a conversazione and exhibition of ironwork and curiosities in May,
1861, and, although this was not a trade exhibition, but promoted by the
London and Middlesex Archæological Society, yet it brought together such
a remarkable collection as had never before been seen in a City Company’s
hall. In proof of this there is in print a very scarce volume entitled “A
Catalogue of the Antiquities and Works of Art Exhibited at Ironmongers’
Hall, London, in the Month of May, 1861,” edited by the well-known
Shakesperian scholar, the late G. R. French, at that time surveyor to
the Company. So laborious was the editing of this ponderous volume, of
642 large quarto pages—for Mr. French was compelled at last to rely on
his own resources in order to complete the book—that it was not issued
until August, 1869. The actual cost of the book will never be known,
for Mr. French died in October, 1881, and all the remaining copies, the
drawings, the wood blocks of the 331 illustrations, and a large quantity
of the original MSS. relating to the exhibition, the book, &c., had been
already dispersed. The “Catalogue,” however, will keep his memory before
the public long after everything else will have passed away. In this
volume will be found described and illustrated, not only the charters,
the plate, and other curiosities belonging to the Ironmongers, but also
those belonging to other corporations, and the principal owners of iron
and other antiquities and curios.

As we have said, the exhibition was opened in May, 1861. Over 600 persons
attended the private view on Wednesday the 8th, 420 were present on the
9th, 1,345 on the 10th, and 1,678 on the 11th and last day—in all, more
than 4,000 persons, each of whom on entering signed his or her name in a
book still preserved by the Company. On the fourth day the Prince Consort
attended, and he signed his name in the Court book. It was the regret of
every one that, owing to the immense value of the antiquities, &c., the
exhibition could not be kept open longer. Since 1861 the Ironmongers have
had several other interesting meetings, and at the end of the month of
March, 1889, the Blacksmiths, by special permission, held its first trade
exhibition in the same building, following, as they do in this laudable
work, the Fishmongers’, Plumbers’, Fanmakers’, Turners’, Carpenters’,
Shipwrights’, Horners’, Coachmakers’, and other City Guilds.

A most important step was taken in 1872, when the Ironmongers joined the
other City Guilds in the promotion of technical education. Mr. Henry
Grissell, an old ironmaster and then senior warden, represented the
Company at the meetings. Speaking of this great movement, the report of
the City Livery Companies’ Commission in 1884 tells us:—“The subject of
technical education has within the last few years been taken up by the
Companies. The Clothworkers’ Company has promoted the establishment of
Yorkshire College at Leeds, where instruction is given in the manufacture
of woollen goods, and similar institutions at Bradford, Huddersfield, and
other places, the present seats of its former trade. The City and Guilds
of London Institute for the Advancement of Technical Education has also
recently been formed. It is an association consisting of representatives
of the City of London, and of most of the more considerable Livery
Companies, and the funds which have been placed at its disposal by the
City and the Companies are very large. A building fund of upwards of
100,000_l._ has been contributed, and annual subscriptions have been
promised amounting to about 25,000_l._ a year. The former sum has been,
or is being, expended on a technical college in Finsbury and a central
institution in South Kensington.” When we state that the technical
education scheme is likely to cost the companies 50,000_l._ a year, no
one should say a word against them, but rather applaud the City for
having inaugurated a grand work without Government aid or the support of
the great employers of labour in outer London.

The attacks made in Parliament during the past quarter of a century
against the City Companies have so far fallen back with a crushing
defeat upon the enemy. Mr. Maguire’s Irish spoliation scheme of 1868
and 1869 ended, as it was expected it would, in proving then (as now)
that there are many worse-managed estates there than those belonging
to the City Guilds. In 1876 and 1877 Mr. James distinguished himself
by also attacking the Companies, and upon three occasions had the
majority of the House against his spoliation designs. Then, again, the
“Royal Commission” of 1880 has enabled our descendants to possess the
finest collection of historical details relating to the Companies it is
possible to get together, and for that alone—not for having obtained
the information at so serious an outlay to the Companies and the public
purse—historical students are truly thankful.

We will now say a few words about the livery and the yeomanry, or freemen
generally, which, unlike any other City Company, form the only two grades
of membership in the Ironmongers (all the livery forming the court);
and this exception, together with the rarity of the oldest yeoman being
considered eligible for the “Clothing,” makes this Company in every
particular as regards the term Livery Company unique. We are very sorry
it is so, because there are many of the freemen who are not only eligible
by time service, but are in many other ways equally eligible by their
devoted interest and their ability; while the peculiar order of the Guild
prevents them being members of other Companies where their services, &c.,
would be more appreciated.

_The Livery._—The introduction of liveries into the City Companies took
place 600 years ago. The chief members wore a gown or cloak with hood,
and for distinction sake each Company had its own colours; but we cannot
learn what the Ironmongers’ were. Edward IV.’s charter is directed to
“all the freemen of the mystery and art of Ironmongers,” and appoints
“one master and two keepers or wardens, and the commonalty” and their
successors to have perpetual succession, with powers to frame ordinances,
&c. The ordinances of 1498 (in which the warden was made responsible
in selecting the necessary cloth at the drapers) were revised in the
reign of Elizabeth, and finally approved, as stated in our fourth
chapter, in February, 1581. Four quarterly courts were to be held, at
which the livery called “the Clothing” were to pay their quarterage,
and those neglecting to attend were to be fined 2_s._ And at these
courts the yeomanry were to appear and also pay their quarterage. And
upon the admittance of a member of the yeomanry to the livery he was to
pay 6_s._ 8_d._ upon receiving “his pattern of his lyverie.” Those not
paying fines to be sent to prison. There does not appear to be a record
officially fixing the strength of the livery. The earliest complete
list is dated 1537, when it appears that the number was 59, at the head
being William Denham (Alderman) and Thomas Lewen (Sheriff of London).
In 1570 there were 54 liverymen. In 1687, before the restoration patent
of James II., the list comprised a master, 2 wardens, 44 assistants,
and 16 liverymen—in all 60, or one more than in the list just 150 years
previous. In 1710 the list was 95, but in 1776 the court had increased
to 100. In 1801 there were 97 all told; in 1828, 85; in 1833 again
98; in 1847, 82; in 1857, 99; in 1867, 84; since which time there has
been a gradual decrease, the total numbering only 48 last year. Now
this is an extraordinary decline, and we should not have collected all
these numbers had it not been that for some years past the yeomanry,
among whom are many worthy and representative men, have been discussing
their chance of obtaining “the clothing,” seeing that “calls” to the
court are by no means regular, and when they do take place younger men,
generally sons or relatives of those already on the court, are chosen
over the heads of “antient” yeomen equally capable, and certainly more
so by long connection with the Company, of looking after its interests,
their position in the commercial world being a guarantee that they
would serve their brethren without the “fee or reward” about which the
Royal Commission on the Companies had so much to say. The ancient dress
or costume of a liveryman in his cap and furred robe is shown in the
Leather-sellers’ charter facsimiles in the magnificent quarto work on
that Guild, edited by the late W. H. Black, for the Company in 1871.
From time to time many ordinances were made about the citizens’ dress,
special reprimands to the livery being administered in 1619 and 1677
for not appearing in their gowns; and in 1698 the Corporation issued an
order that in future no one should join as a liveryman one of the twelve
Companies unless he had an estate of 1,000_l._, or one of the minor
Guilds under 500_l._ By an order passed in 1790 no servant is eligible
for election on the livery. In 1627 a very curious dispute arose between
Humphrey Hook, then residing at Bristol, where he had served municipal
offices, and the court, they calling upon him to be their warden, he
having been a freeman twenty-four years. The Company appears to have won
the case.

_The Yeomanry_ are the freemen of the Company generally, and about
300 in number. Although not of the “Clothing” (livery) a yeoman was
described by an authority in 1759 as being of military origin, and in
many respects equal to an esquire, the former fighting with arrows and
bows made of yew tree, the latter carrying for distinction and defence
a shield. In the ordinances of 1581 it was laid down that the yeomanry
should pay their quarterage of 4_d._ a quarter, and that the wardens of
the livery should, when necessary, help the “wardens of the yeomanry”;
the four quarter-days are specially named as July 25, or St. James’ day,
October 18, being St. Luke’s day, New Year’s day, and the Wednesday in
Easter week, on which last-named day the new warden of the yeomanry
should be elected for two years, there having been two wardens allowed
by petition in 1497. All members failing to appear on these days were
fined. It was also decreed that two suppers should be kept yearly at the
hall, for which the wardens were allowed 33_s._ 4_d._ Mr. Nicholl, the
Company’s historian, states that the wardens of the yeomanry stand in
the same position to their body as the wardens of the livery do; but of
late years, their duties having declined, only one warden now represents
the freemen. The quarterage, too, of 16_d._ per annum has for many years
past ceased to be collected, and the two meetings and suppers at the
hall, which formerly took place on election day and St. Luke’s day (by
and under the authority of the ancient ordinances of 1581, confirmed by
the Lord Chancellor in 1590, assisted by the will in 1653 of “a worthy
benefactor,” none other than the clerk of the Company, Ralph Handson,
and finally approved by the Charity Trustees in 1876), were in the year
1830 discontinued, and two dinners appointed to take place at the hall in
their stead. At these meetings and festivals, which are proved to be no
unimportant rights, the senior warden of the livery presides, drinking
health and prosperity to the yeomanry “root and branch, and may they
flourish for ever”; their warden replying, and desiring his brethren in
return to drink to the health of the senior warden. These are the only
occasions when the members have the opportunity and pleasure of meeting
in a body, and may the ancient custom—which by special ordinances became
the freemen’s right—long continue is a wish echoed by the whole Company.
Formerly the bread and cheese and ale repast was obtained from the old
King’s Head Tavern opposite the hall in Fenchurch Street, and it was
within the walls of the New London Tavern, erected on its site, that the
warden of the yeomanry for the year 1888 held the St. Luke’s day meeting,
and by discoursing to his brethren upon the history and antiquity of
the Company, and exhibiting a number of curiosities relating to the
Ironmongers, not only brought together a most enthusiastic audience, but
for the first time in the recollection of the yeomanry made them feel
interested in their Guild, and to pass a resolution never to permit the
opportunity of meeting twice a year (by virtue of the old ordinance) to
lapse in the future.

The freedom of the Ironmongers’ Company is obtainable by patrimony (as
children of freemen, for there have been free women admitted), servitude
(as apprentices to freemen), and redemption (by payment of one hundred
guineas, or honorary presentation); but, curious to relate, although
there are members of the Company “learned in the law” at the present
time (as freemen by patrimony), no attorney is eligible for election by
redemption. By ordinance dated 1657 no person is to change the copy of
his freedom, and by an order of Court made November 21, 1878, “no person
who is free of any other Company can be admitted to the freedom of the
Ironmongers’ Company, nor can he become free of another Company after
being admitted to the freedom of this Company.” This order necessarily
makes the Ironmongers a select body corporate, and unlike the other
Companies of the City. Upon being elected freeman the member makes a
declaration accordingly, and when elected warden he takes the warden’s
oath to look after the Company’s welfare during his term of office. The
beadle of the Company half-yearly sends out the notices: “You are desired
by the warden of the yeomanry to meet at Ironmongers’ Hall” (on the day
of election, or St. Luke’s) “when a court will be holden in the usual
manner.” At this court the warden presides and signs the freemen’s book,
as do also such members who may be present. The beadle, having previously
written to those of the yeomanry eligible for office of warden, submits
the replies to the court. The election is entirely by their own vote, and
selected from those present; and we believe for the first time in 1881,
when Mr. F. W. Pellatt was chosen. The warden of the following year (Mr.
Alfred Marshall, C.E.) was re-elected in 1883, he having taken an active
part in the freemen’s interest; and at the election in 1888 (the Armada
Tercentenary celebration year) the warden chosen was the author of the
“Historical Essay” upon the Spanish Armada, who, being a member of the
Plymouth and London committees, was selected in commemoration of the
Company’s zeal at the time of the threatened invasion 300 years previous.
At the yeomanry meeting at Easter, 1883, a special vote of condolence
with the family was recorded in the minute-book upon the decease of “its
much respected clerk, Simon Adams Beck, Esq., who for the long period of
nearly fifty years so ably discharged the duties of his very important
office.” The death of Mr. Beck, who was at one time Governor of the Gas
Light and Coke Company—the district in which the works are situated being
now known as Beckton—was a sad loss to every member of the Ironmongers’
Company. His portrait appropriately hangs close to that of Mr. John
Nicholl, the Company’s historian, in the court-room at the hall.



The London apprentice of the olden time was as different a personage to
the ’prentice lad of to-day as the streets of the City are now unlike the
thoroughfares of two or three centuries ago. The ancient Guild ordinances
relating to apprentices prove that they were considered a most important
part of the establishment of a citizen, and this is not to be wondered
at when we consider that not only the trade of his master, but the trade
of London, depended entirely upon the skilled artisan and craftsman’s
ability, without which all the money-bags of the merchant were of little
use. We could fill a volume with the history and anecdotes of the
apprentice, but must content ourselves by giving a brief summary only;
and the notes that we do give will show that our apprentices were not
unworthy of the City, notwithstanding they were never backward in crying
“Clubs! clubs!” and eager for the fray. In every festival, on the “high
days and holidays” of civic life, at the marching watch or a Lord Mayor’s
Show, at “going a Maying” to Shooters’ Hill, and archery practice in
Finsbury Fields, the apprentice was an expected visitant. As he existed
in the days of James I., Sir Walter Scott, in his “Fortunes of Nigel,”
conveys to us a presentable and true picture.

Since the year 1662, no sooner was a boy aged fourteen than a master
was found, and to him he was “bound” to serve, to follow his master’s
trade, and to learn it until the age of twenty-one, when, having proved
a good apprentice, he was admitted to the freedom of the Company to
which such master belonged. Sometimes his master in the meantime died,
and that necessitated his being “turned over” to another employer. If
the boy misbehaved himself, then the Company and the Chamberlain took
him in hand, and, if incorrigible, to Bridewell he was sent. It neither
benefited the Corporation, the Company, nor the master to take too severe
measures, and in recent years the cases have been few where correction
has been administered, although to our minds it should have been oftener;
and instances, too, have occurred where the master ought to have paid the
penalty as well.

[Illustration: ST. ELIZABETH.




(See page 55.)]

The earliest enrolment of a City apprentice was in the reign of Edward
II., or five centuries and a half ago. There is a curious case recorded
in the Guildhall Letter-book II, folio 42, of the year 1376, when William
Grendone, _alias_ Credelle, a scrivener, was sent to Newgate and fined
for making a false indenture between William Ayllesham, a goldsmith, and
Nicholas, the son of William Flourman. The indenture was for nine years,
and the surety, instead of the father of the boy, was named as “the Cross
at the North Door.” This cross—Broken Cross, or the Stone Cross—was at
the north door of St. Paul’s, and, having been erected in the reign of
Henry III., remained there until 1390, and in those superstitious ages
any transaction there was, as a rule, considered binding. Each cross in
the City had certain stalls, or stands, or stations, and these from time
to time were let to persons who thus became Stationers, and in course of
time left these stations at the Cross, and took up their position in and
about Paternoster Row.

The Ironmongers’ ordinance for the year 1498 (confirmed by the Judges
February 16, 1581) specially mentions the apprentice, as we have shown in
our fourth chapter. The housing, the clothing, and the general welfare of
the boy were fully set down, even to the command that the master “shall
not suffre his (the apprentice’s) here to growe to long!” Again, “Every
maister is sworne at the Guyldehall to make his prentice free wᵗʰout any
cost or charge to the prentice”—a custom, we regret to say, long ago
forgotten; and a century and a half after the making of the ordinance it
was further ordered that any master putting in an appearance with the
boy at the hall “before he have orderly cutt and barbed his hayre to
the liking of the Mʳ and Wardens of the Company” was to be fined twenty
shillings. One of the best City ordinances was that preventing the early
marrying of artisans, in 1556—a custom which had produced “povertie,
penurie, and lacke of livyng.” The Act recites:—

    That by reason of the over hastie marriges and over some
    setting up of housholdes of and by the youth and young
    folkes of the sayde citie wᶜʰ hath comonly used and yet do,
    to marry themselves as sone as ever thay come oute of theyr
    apprenticehode be thaye never so young and unskilful, yea
    and often tymes many of them so poore that they scantly have
    of theire proper goodeyes wherewith to buye theire marriage
    apparel, and to furnish ther houses with implements and other
    thinges necessary for the exercise of ther of ther occupacons
    whereby they should be able to sustayne themselves and theire

therefore, for the remedy it was ordered that all apprentices in future
should not be made free until the age of twenty-four, at which age his
apprenticeship is to expire, and any master violating the order to pay
a fine of 20_l._ It is a curious coincidence, too, that in the original
rules, dated September, 1557, for the government of “the House of
Bridewell,” which hospital the City had recently obtained from Edward
VI., there is a special ordinance relating to the oversight of “the Nail

    Now for the setting on work of the idle; it shall be very
    requisite that with as much speed, and as conveniently as yᵉ
    may, that yᵉ increase the number of apprentices being taught
    in the said faculty and discharge the number of journeymen, to
    the intent the same apprentices being themselves perfect and
    absolute therein may train and teach such of our poor children
    or other needy people as hereafter we shall call out of the
    hateful life of idleness.

As already stated, the overseers, artmasters, taskmasters, workmasters,
or artificers, for the foremen of the Bridewell shops, where the boys
were taught clothworking, weaving, pinmaking, &c., were so called, had
under their charge sometimes 150, and as many as 250. Two of the hospital
minute entries tell us:—

    1602, Oct. 21.—Richard Brookes, fustian weaver, engages to take
    during seven years next ensuing 40 vagrant boyes and wenches of
    this city as apprentices to keep in diett, apparell, washing
    and wringing: the said R. Brookes to receive with every of the
    said children at their coming clean apparell and 10_l._ yearly.

    1604, February 20.—Francis Ackland, pinmaker, engages to take
    40 vagrant boys as apprentices.

And in 1606 the minute-book reports the order that the names of all
proposed apprentices brought into the House of Bridewell shall be
registered, as also the master’s name. During the last century the
apprentices in the house gradually declined, for in 1708 there were 140,
in 1768 only 60, in 1789 only 36, and in 1791 only 26, illustrating
but too forcibly the change in the times. It is probably not generally
known that in the olden time the Bridewell boys upon the ringing of the
fire-bell by the beadle used to drop their tools and start off to the
fire, wherever it was situate in the metropolis. The result was:—

    They were active, to be sure, and serviceable; but what were
    the consequences to themselves? They were thrown among all
    those profligates which a fire collects in the streets. They
    got liquor, they got money, and frequently roamed about the
    town all night without controul. The masters lost the benefit
    of the next day’s labour; and not seldom boys were hurt, and
    for a long time disabled from working. It is about 20 years
    since this very pernicious practice was restrained.

By the above quotations, written in 1798, we have shown that Bridewell
was not only a House of Correction for City vagrants, but was from its
foundation a real workhouse and artisans’ workshop. Many ignorant and
misinformed persons have before now gone out of their way to abuse this
institution, and declare that it never was put to the use the royal
founder intended. We could multiply our proofs that Bridewell always was
a useful house until Government, more than a century ago, meddled with
the City management, and spoilt this and Christ’s Hospital as well.

Another ancient ordinance of the City is dated 1582, when every freeman
was charged to take such steps necessary to prevent, and not to suffer
under any circumstances, “servants, apprentices, journemen, or children,
to repare or goe to annye playes, peices or enterludes, either wiᵗʰn
the Citie or suburbs,” under the severe pains and penalties “at the
discretion of me and my brethren.” Exactly a century later, on August 9,
1682, some 2,000 apprentices of London, who had taken active steps in the
address to Charles II. for the support of the institution, were feasted
in Merchant Taylors’ Hall, the king specially sending them two fat bucks
for the occasion.

The following is a copy of an original apprenticeship indenture, dated
1676. It is printed on vellum, 7 by 4 inches in size, the names and date
being the only portions written:—


    THIS INDENTURE Witnesseth that Clement Aleyn, Sonn of Clement
    Aleyn, of Welton, in the County of Northampton, Gentleman,
    doth put himself Apprentice to Samuell Clerke, Citizen and
    IRONMONGER of London, to learn his Art: and with him (after
    the manner of an Apprentice) to serve from the day of the date
    hereof unto the full end and term of Seaven Years from thence
    next following to be fully complete and ended. During which
    term the said Apprentice his said Master shall faithfully
    serve, his secrets keep, his lawful commandments everywhere
    gladly do. He shall do no damage to his said Master, nor see
    to be done of others, but that he to his power shall let or
    forthwith give warning to his said Master of the same. He
    shall not waste the goods of his said Master, nor lend them
    unlawfully to any. He shall not commit fornication nor contract
    matrimony within the said term. He shall not play at Cards,
    Dice, Tables, or any other unlawful Games, whereby his said
    Master may have any loss with his own goods or others during
    the said term without license of his said Master, he shall
    neither buy nor sell. He shall not haunt Taverns or Playhouses,
    nor absent himself from his said Master’s service day or night
    unlawfully. But in all things as a faithful Apprentice he shall
    behave himself towards his said Master and all his during the
    said term. And the said Master his said Apprentice in the same
    Art which he useth by the best means that he can, shall teach
    and instruct, or cause to be taught and instructed, finding
    unto his said Apprentice meat, drink, apparel, lodging, and
    all other necessaries, according to the custom of the City of
    London during the said term. And for the true performance of
    all and every the said Covenants and Agreements either of the
    said parties bindeth himself unto the other by these presents.
    In witness whereof the parties above named to these Indentures
    interchangeably have put their hands and Seals the Three and
    Twentieth day of Maye, Anno Dom. 1676, and in the xxviijth Year
    of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord King Charles the Second over
    England, &c.

                                                     CLEMENT ALEYN.

    Sealed and dd. in the pres. of Tho. Heatly, Clerke.

By the Act of Common Council, passed March, 1889, apprentices can now be
bound for four years instead of seven, and instead of the master being
compelled (as of old) to make the apprentice an indoor servant, he is to
pay wages sufficient to keep the boy in food, clothing, &c., elsewhere,
as may be arranged. This term of four years also entitles the apprentice
to his freedom if the bindings are to citizens, and effected by the
Chamberlain and the Companies. The Ironmongers so long ago as January,
1863, had (when desired) adopted the five years’ term, but then, while it
gave the boy the Company’s freedom, it did not confer that of the City.
Thus, at last, in this official four years’ term, we have arrived at a
most satisfactory settlement of a long and often heart-burning grievance.

The Ironmongers’ Hall, where the bindings take place and the Company’s
business transacted, is situated in Fenchurch Street, one house westward
of Billiter Street. The original ground upon which the premises stand
was purchased by nineteen ironmongers, members of the ancient Guild, in
October, 1457, and the original purchase deeds still exist to prove that
the site is the private property of the descendants of those nineteen
brethren of the Guild—if there is really any law extant that freehold
property belongs to the “root and branch” of a true-born Englishman. The
Hall is mentioned in 1479 as being in the parish of All Hallows Staining,
in the Ward of Aldgate. Between the parochial authorities and the Company
long existed a dispute upon the burning question of tithes, until some
twenty years ago it reached the crisis. A warrant was issued, and four
of the candelabra and two of the loving cups were “in a friendly way,”
in order to test the case, placed on a table in the Hall and momentarily
seized by the official, and as quickly restored upon the usual bonds
being given for the superior Court’s decision. A few years before—in
1862—some beautiful specimens of ornamental ironwork, which the company
had erected in the Corporation pew in the church as rests for the sword
and mace, suddenly disappeared, but upon question raised as suddenly
returned. There is a funny entry in the church-wardens’ accounts of this
parish for the year 1494: “Payd for a kylcherkyn of good ale, which was
drunkyn in the Yrynmongers’ Hall, all chargis born xij_s._ ij_d._” We
should like to know what brought about this merry-making 400 years ago.
Could it have been “a parochial settlement” of the dispute of 1479?

In Aggas’s map of the City, of the reign of Elizabeth, Ironmongers’
Hall is depicted as a range of buildings (among which was the clerk’s
residence). There was no entrance from Fenchurch Street, but only through
a long garden having entry from Leadenhall Street. That there was a
garden to the Hall is certain, because in the records, about the year
1540, there are numerous interesting entries similar to these:—

    ffor a gardener ffor a daye and a hallffe ffor
      cuttyng of vynes and dressing of rosses           xij_d._
    to a gardener for V dayes worke                     iij_s._ iiij_d._
    ffor cutting of the knotts of yᵉ rosemarie in the
      garden                                            x_d._

The first Hall remained until 1585, when, being found “ruinous and
in greate decay,” it was rebuilt, and a kitchen erected. The cost
was large—something like 600_l._—but the ground covered was somewhat
extensive. Tapestry was ordered for the Hall in 1590, and in 1629 further
additions were made. In 1686 new sundials were erected, and in 1701 a new
wall was put up to prevent the persons in the tavern next door looking
across the Company’s garden into the private apartments of the Company.
In 1707 a mulberry tree was planted in the garden, and in 1719 some new
lime trees, so that the Ironmongers’ garden was quite a rural retreat,
and like the Drapers’ garden, which has only of late years been covered
over by bricks and mortar.

The second Ironmongers’ Hall was not burnt in the great fire of 1666,
although it was surrounded by the destructive demon. A certain William
Christmas, shipwright, did some good service to the Company upon the
occasion, so that in March, 1667, he received a gratuity. In 1677 the
Corporation ordered all public buildings to keep leather buckets,
hand-squirts, &c., to be ready in case of fire, and the Ironmongers
provided themselves with thirty buckets, one engine, six pickaxes, three
ladders, and two squirts, the latter being of brass, 3 feet long and
9 inches diameter. To this day may be seen some, if not the, buckets,
hanging in the vestibule of the Hall. In 1699 the music-room was
repaired; in 1707 a lion and unicorn was put up in the court-room.

The third, and present, Ironmongers’ Hall was erected from the designs
of T. Holden, and at a cost of about 5,000_l._, about 1748. It was not
completed until 1750, when, on February 13 that year, a ball was given at
the opening, and a hogshead of port wine, half a chest of oranges, and
other good things were consumed at the feast. A full description of the
Hall and its interesting contents will be found in Malcolm’s “Londinium
Redivivum,” vol. ii. 1803, pp. 32-62. The Hall was repaired in 1817,
and in 1827 a light corridor connecting the grand staircase with the
drawing-room was erected, and two years later the four handsome columns
and pilasters were put up in the drawing-room. Just about a century after
the erection of the present Hall it underwent an entire redecoration, and
was reopened once more with a ball on June 8, 1847. The banqueting-room
is 70 feet long and 29 feet wide. A carved panelled dado, 8 feet high,
is carried round the room, having in the upper compartments the arms in
proper colours of the past masters from the recognised foundation in
1351. The windows, as seen from the street, are curious as presenting
seven different styles, and only equalled, we believe, by a house in
Berkeley Square, where, out of eleven windows, seven are of different
kinds. Mr. Nicholl gives a full description of the Hall and its contents
as existing in 1866 in his “Some Account,” pp. 421-467. The portraits
of eminent members hang on the walls of the banqueting-room and in the
court-room, two of the latest in the latter room being those of Mr. John
Nicholl, F.S.A., the Company’s historian, and Mr. S. Adams Beck, who for
nearly fifty years was the clerk and sincere friend of the Company, as
mentioned in our last chapter.

From Ironmongers’ Hall were conducted the last remains of many a notable
member or citizen in the olden time. The funeral pall or hearse cloth
used on these occasions was the gift of John Gyva, ironmonger, in 1515,
and Elizabeth, his wife. It is of crimson velvet and cloth of gold
tissue, and is described and illustrated at pages 454-7 of Mr. French’s
“Catalogue.” Notes of the sixteenth century funerals are given in “The
Diary of Henry Machyn” (Camden Society), 1848. In the “Diary of Samuel
Pepys” he tells us of the funeral from the Hall in November, 1662, of Sir
Richard Stayner, where “good rings” were distributed and the mourners had
“a four-horse coach,” in which he by mistake took a place.

There have been many meetings at the Hall, some of national and others of
great civic interest, especially in the making free and entertainments to
distinguished men like Lords Hood and Exmouth. In 1694 the Company let
the Hall for a lottery, which was called “the best and fairest chance at
last,” and five years later the whole of the old armour then standing
in and about the premises was sold to Mr. Thomas Saunders for eight
guineas, “the musketts 2_s._ 6_d._ apiece!” It is not generally known
that the national anthem of “God Save the King,” so repeatedly sung at
the old City feasts and all over the world, was the composition of Dr.
John Bull, who, with the children of the King’s Chapel, sung and played
it before James I. and Prince Henry at the Merchant Taylors’ Hall feast,
July 16, 1607. In Ironmongers’ Hall have dined Dr. Livingstone, Admiral
Dawes, and Sir Garnet Wolseley, the latter just before leaving England
for the Gold Coast. An interesting article, entitled “Banqueting with the
Ironmongers,” and giving a good picture of these modern entertainments,
appeared in the _City Press_, August 21, 1875. The Company’s plate is
not so extensive as that possessed by some of the City Guilds. The
collection will be found described by Mr. French in his “Catalogue,”
pp. 616-624. There are two mazer bowls (thirteenth to sixteenth century
drinking-vessels), of which only fifty are supposed to be extant, and
therefore curious and interesting. They are described by Mr. St. John
Hope in “Archæologia,” vol. 50, 1887, pp. 129-193. In the old views of
the exterior of the Hall are shown the houses on the east side adjoining
Billiter Street. These were pulled down and rebuilt some twenty years
ago. Finally, in bringing our description of the Hall to a close, we
cannot forbear mentioning a curious fact. In the first report of the City
Livery Companies’ Commission, 1884, p. 36, there is a list given of all
the existing halls of the City Guilds, thirty-four in number, and yet the
Ironmongers’ (one of the twelve) has been omitted!

We shall conclude this chapter by noticing the Irish estate of the
Ironmongers’ Company, called “The Manor of Lizard,” about seven miles
from Coleraine, and skirting the river Bann, in the province of Ulster,
the total area of which is between 12,000 and 13,000 acres, occupied as
550 holdings, with a population of about 2,800 persons all told. The
net receipts from rents come to about 4,000_l._ a year. The estate is
scattered over five parishes, and until recent years has been a great
anxiety to the Company, who, having, like other Guilds, in former times
let their lands as a whole to certain responsible persons, receiving a
yearly rent, found out too late then that these persons, some of whom
were resident, grossly neglected the well-being of both the property and
the people. In 1766 the Company leased the estate to Josias du Pre, Esq.,
for sixty-one years and three lives. In 1813 he sold the remainder of his
lease to the Beresford family. The last life mentioned in the lease was
that of the Bishop of Meath, who died in his eighty-third year in 1840.
The Hon. the Irish Society reported that year:—“The present holders seem
only to have used the property for the purpose of making the most of
it during the term of their lease,” consequently when the Company took
possession they found it no easy matter to put the estate in that order
which they so long desired to do. Through their energetic agents they
have at last succeeded, after terribly uphill work, and we believe the
tenantry now find out the truth of the Irish Society’s report in 1838,
which stated, “This estate upon the death of the Bishop of Meath passes
into the hands of the Company, and we have no doubt that it will prove a
source of much happiness to the tenantry when they shall be placed under
the immediate superintendence of that body.”

The origin of the purchase of this estate arose through the rebellion in
Ireland, in the reign of Elizabeth, when the O’Neills and the O’Dohertys
were in the possession of the province of Ulster. In order to suppress
the revolt the army was sent over in 1566, and encamped in Derry County.
The lands were subsequently confiscated, and when James I. came to the
throne he found them such a source of trouble that he or his Ministers
devised the scheme of selling the whole property, being, as we have said,
confiscated from traitors to the Crown. The King also instituted the
order of Baronets to such persons who would pay towards the charges of
the reclamation of the waste lands and the new plantation, and peopling
with Protestants the North of Ireland, and that is why the red hand of
Ulster will be found in a baronet’s coat of arms. After much trouble
the City of London were offered the Irish estates, which the Companies
jointly purchased for 40,000_l._ This sum was subscribed by fifty-five
of the Guilds, being the twelve great and forty-three minor Companies.
The great ones were to manage for the lesser, the Ironmongers being
associated with the Brewers, Scriveners, Coopers, Pewterers, Barbers,
Surgeons, and Carpenters, paying 3,333_l._ 6_s._ 8_d._ as their share,
calling their portion the Manor of Lizard, from the crest of their arms.
“This manor was created by the Irish Society in October, 1618, and was
conveyed to the Ironmongers’ on November 7 following, to the only use and
behoof of the said Company, their successors, and assigns for ever.” In
May, 1613, the Coopers’ Company’s share was taken over by the Corporation
of London, and the Irish Society of the City of London, incorporated by
royal charter March 29, 1613, was made a body corporate to carry out
the plantation of the City and County of Londonderry, which cost them
from first to last before completed nearly 100,000_l._ To this day the
citizens of London annually visit Ireland, the last visit in 1888 being
more than usually important, as the two-hundredth anniversary of the
memorable siege of Derry, now Londonderry, in 1688, about which so much
has been written and said. The following works may be consulted as giving
true details of the plantation scheme, one of, if not the wisest of, the
schemes of the first King James:—

    “A Concise View of the Irish Society,” 1822.

    “An Historical Narrative of the Irish Society,” 1865.

    “An Historical Account of the Plantation in Ulster,” by the
    Rev. Geo. Hill, 1877.

    “Calendar of the Carew Manuscripts at Lambeth Palace,” 1873.

    “Derriana: a History of the Siege, &c.” by the Rev. John
    Graham, 1823.

    “A True Account of the Siege, &c.” by the Rev. George Walker,

Had it not been for this George Walker and the heroic prentice lads of
Derry, the preservation of that city would never have been secured. (See
Lord Macaulay’s History.)



The Monstrance or Shrine at each end.

(See page 55.)]



Citizenship is the birthright of every man, but it is not every man who
is worthy of the name of citizen. What makes the honourable distinction
all the more valuable is when “a citizen of no mean city,” and the true
representative of “a nation of shopkeepers,” so truly values his rights
and privileges as to be ever ready to come forward when occasion requires
to protect it from the ignorance and contamination of those whose only
design must be to overthrow its virtues for the sake of personal gains.
It was Lord Chancellor Selborne who some years ago publicly declared
that his ancestors for four generations had been connected with one of
the City Guilds, and he had never been ashamed of anything either of
those ancestors had done, and never regretted his own connection with
the City or its Companies. And another eminent man of earlier days most
emphatically declared, “I would rather be born of the basest and meanest
of mankind, and rise to fame and distinction by my own exertions, than
that, being born of noble ancestry and high degree, I should bring
disgrace on an exalted name, and cross with a bar sinister the proud
escutcheon of my father’s house.”

To the humble traders of old London their richer brethren left their
trusts, their charities, and their blessings. Their estates had been
obtained by hard work and hard-earned money in a great many instances,
and having been associated with the zealous and careful men of their own
Guilds they left to them the carrying out of the designs expressed in
their wills. No one would have left to a Government department such a
trust then, and no one will do so now.

The Government inspector, in his evidence before the Companies
Commission, declared that he considered William Thwaytes’ bequest of
20,000_l._ “to make the Society comfortable”—and that Society was
the Clothworkers’ Company, to which he belonged some half a century
ago—really meant “to make the traders comfortable”! Or that every
clothworker in the kingdom—shall we say the world?—ought to participate.
On the same principle, if a workman in a shop left “to the workmen in the
shop” 5_l._, every shop in that trade should have its share. Pray what
would be the value of the bequest?

The City Companies, as we have shown in the history of the Ironmongers,
had a terribly uphill battle to fight with early monarchy. Whenever there
was a chance to rob the citizens, down pounced the Government or Royalty.
Henry VIII. commenced by dissolving the religious houses, and the good
King Edward VI. seized the properties left to the Companies by the wills
of benefactors on the plea that they were for superstitious uses. Having
taken possession he was glad enough to sell the property back to them,
so that he made a very profitable business of the transaction. The result
of this “clever” and “sharp” practice was that the Ironmongers had to
sell their private property to buy back the trust estate. Having done
this, is it not creditable to a City Company to be still administering
that trust of which the King himself had originally deprived them?

Coming down to more modern times, Thomas Betton, Hoxton Square,
Shoreditch, left the Ironmongers’ Company, in 1723, the residue of his
estate for the purpose of redeeming slaves in Barbary. Other notable
citizens had done a similar good deed before then, for so long previous
as 1641 Roger Abdy, merchant, had left 120_l._ “for or towards the
ransoming and redeeming of sixe poore English Protestant captives out
of the bondage and slavery of the Turks.” Thomas Betton’s bequest was
a noble one, for just about the date of it all the world was suffering
from the terrors of slavery. Between 1734 and 1825 the Company appears
to have paid away in redemption money something like 21,000_l._, or as
much as the whole estate had been originally worth, but the Ironmongers,
having been good trustees, had “improved” the estate, and the result was
that after Lord Exmouth’s great victory, no more slaves being likely to
be redeemable, and there being a large balance at the bank, the Company
desired to utilise the surplus for the benefit of charity, reserving a
certain sum per annum for future redemptions and contingencies. This was
serious, so down came the Government and popped the whole into Chancery.
The Company believed they were right, and did not want the interference;
but they had to fight against the Crown, and from 1829 to 1845 did the
battle last. Several thousands of pounds did Government law cost the
charity, but that the Company was right is evident, because the highest
tribunal, the House of Lords, decided that what the Company had proposed
so many years before should now be carried out—bequests to the poor of
the company and to every national school in the kingdom.

The Ironmongers’ charities are not so extensive as many of the other
City Guilds’, but they represent a variety of really good and seasonable
benefactions. Among these are two almshouse foundations (Geffery and
Lewen), scholarships to schools and exhibitions to universities, a small
free school in Cornwall, the poor of the City wards, loans to poor young
freemen to help them on in life, bequests to hospitals, to poor maids
upon their marriage, to poor prisoners in debt, to the poor freemen and
their widows, to poor ministers and clergy, to the national schools
of the kingdom, &c. The charity trusts amount to about 12,000_l._ a
year, half of which, being from rents, have of late years fluctuated.
The Company does not possess any ecclesiastical patronage, except the
appointment of a chaplain, who is also the minister to the almshouse
poor. There was a priest of the company 400 years ago, but the present
chaplain, the Rev. H. M. Baker, is the fourteenth since 1715, when the
first appointment to the almshouses in the Kingsland Road was made.

Through the changes of the times and the “compulsory” sales by Act of
Parliament for modern improvements, some of the old property has changed
hands and new property has been purchased. This has been specially the
case under the Geffery and Betton trusts, and round about East and West
Ham and the Isle of Dogs. The Company now possesses houses and premises
in Old Street, St. Luke’s (Mitchell), Basinghall Street, Philpot Lane,
and Fleet Street. It also possesses the site of the famous New Park
Street Chapel, Southwark, where the Rev. C. H. Spurgeon first preached
when he came to London; also, farms in the counties of Bucks, Essex, and
Surrey. When in the good old times—so says a newspaper in July, 1769—the
Company went on tour to view their Essex estate, they “held their annual
feast at the Devil’s House” (now Duval’s House), near East Ham, a house
of entertainment at that date. The sign of the house is suggestive to
the disciples of St. Dunstan. In recent years two great districts have
grown up in and around East and West Ham—Beckton, which takes its name
from the worthy clerk of the Company (S. Adams Beck), who died in 1883,
and Silvertown, from a recent Master of the Ironmongers’ Company (S.
W. Silver), who has proved most energetic in promoting the Company’s
welfare. One word more about the old estates. The great fire of London of
1666 burnt down nearly all the City property of the Companies, and the
loss to the Ironmongers was serious. Fortunately, the Hall was saved.

Charitable Ironmongers, whether we view them as donors of land, of
houses, of plate, or other things, or for the time they have given
towards promoting the welfare of the Company, have been in many ways
worthy benefactors to the City and the citizens. We have been curious
in one inquiry—to what extent the donations of some classes of plate
have been made, and we find that in the 400 years ending 1865 “brother”
Ironmongers have given twenty-nine silver gilt cups and covers, many very
large and valuable, seventeen basins and ewers, and seven salts; besides
many other descriptions of plate, such as silver spoons, ornaments,
candlesticks, and the like. Of course, the Company does not possess all
the valuables now. Our former Monarchy, who had the citizens’ welfare so
much at heart, took good care (as we have already shown) not to allow
these valuables to remain too long in the hands of “the City Fathers,”
and so to-day the Ironmongers have but a small collection of plate. When
the charitable Ironmongers left these cups for their brethren “to make
themselves comfortable,” whether at a dinner or other feast, they never
thought that their radically-inclined descendants would object to the
good old English greeting: “The Master and Wardens drink to you in a
loving cup, and bid you all a hearty welcome.”

Eminent Ironmongers, by their portraits, still adorn the Ironmongers’
Hall. Thirteen are in the banqueting-room, and eight in the court-room.
Armorial shields round the Hall give us the names of our worthy Masters
from the earliest times, while there are two statues of great interest,
Edward IV., the founder, and Lord Mayor Beckford—this latter being in a
niche on the grand staircase.

Abstracts of most of the Ironmongers’ wills are in our collection, and
the series is most curious. We cannot do justice to the subject now, but
some time we hope to give some interesting details. One, however, is
worth quoting, and that is of Alderman Richard Chamberlin, 1567. He was a
good benefactor, he remembered the poor, he gave the Company 50_l._ “to
helpe them oute of debte,” he left 10_l._ for “a dynner at oure halle,”
desiring the members’ wives should be present, and he then put down on
paper, “I praye God make us merye in Heaven!”

We will now, in alphabetical arrangement, give a few of the names of
those Ironmongers worth remembering. We do not profess to give a
complete list, for such would form a volume by itself, so numerous are
they, and so many notes do we possess about them.

BATE, John, 1500, and Felys his wife, gave to the Company a cup and other
things, “ther with to do God and us worship, and not to be solde while
they will last.”

BECKFORD, William, Alderman, and Lord Mayor 1762 and 1770, when he died;
was made free of the Company 1752, was born in Jamaica, his father
being Peter Beckford, Speaker in the Assembly. The Lord Mayor made
himself famous by his celebrated speech to George III., as engraved on
the monument in Guildhall. Another statue, formerly at Fonthill, was
presented to the company by his son William in 1833. See pedigrees and
other details in Britton and Rutter’s two descriptions of Fonthill,
Wilts. Richard, brother of the Lord Mayor, was also Alderman and M.P.,
but he was a member of the Clothworkers’ Company.

BETTON, Thomas, a Turkey merchant, admitted to the freedom by redemption
1696, lived in Hoxton Square; will dated 1723. He died 1724; buried in
the Ironmongers’ Almshouse Grounds, Kingsland Road. Portrait presented to
the Company in 1728. Gave the residue of his estate for the redemption of
slaves in Barbary (as already noted).

BLUNDELL, Peter, although not an Ironmonger, but from a poor errand boy
had grown to be a rich clothier, and one of “the worthies of Devon”
(Prince), and “a man very Godly and Christianly disposed all his life
time” (Stow), left charities to the extent of about 40,000_l._, including
150_l._ to each of the twelve great Livery Companies of London. He died
1601, aged eighty-one.

BICKNELL, Elhanan, of Herne Hill, Dulwich, a citizen and Ironmonger,
and great patron of the arts. He died 1861. His will was proved at
350,000_l._ His pictures sold at Christie’s for 56,499_l._; the
sculpture, 2,145_l._; drawings, 15,947_l._; prints, 444_l._; his houses
and lands, 18,000_l._ He had no fewer than ten Turners in his collection.
He left several charitable bequests.

CAMBELL.—Several of this family have proved to be eminent Ironmongers.
Sir Thomas, Lord Mayor 1610, Master 1604 and 1613; Sir James, Lord Mayor
1629, and three times Master; Robert, a merchant, and Master 1631. Sir
James was the principal benefactor, leaving nearly 50,000_l._, as may be
seen in Strype’s “Stow.” He died 1641, and his portrait is in the Hall.

CANNING.—Of this family William was Master 1617 and 1627, when he died.
George (who died 1646) was for many years the Company’s agent in Ireland,
and was the ancestor of the Prime Minister George Canning.

CARRE, John, 1571, his son in 1573, and Mrs. Carre in 1583, left many
bequests to the Company.

CHAMBERLIN.—This family was well represented on the Company. There were
Richard, George, and Robert. Alderman Richard, Master 1560 and 1565, died
November 19, 1566, and was buried in St. Olave, Old Jewry. His epitaph

    To the poore he was liberall and gave for God’s sake,
    But now his fame is plentifull and he a Heavenly make;
    He was like one of vs, according to our mould,
    But now he unlike vs in Heaven where he would;
    His time was short in sicknesse rare as to all is knowne,
    But now his time shall long endure and never be cast downe.

CLITHEROW.—Alderman and Lord Mayor Sir Christopher; Master 1618-1624;
died 1642. He was son of Henry, three times Master, who died 1607. See
pedigree in the “History of Hertfordshire.” A worthy benefactor.

DANE, William, Alderman and Sheriff 1569, Master 1570-1573; died
November, 1579. Margaret, his widow, 1579, was “a good woman.” She left
many charities, including the 12,000 faggots to the poor for firewood,
which has been made by the ignorant the more serious gift to burn them
with. Her portrait hangs in the Hall.

DENHAM, Sir William, descended from the Dinhams of Normandy. Sheriff
1534, Master 1531 to 1548. Died August 4, 1548. By a curious error in
the codicil to the will the Company were compelled to purchase the
properties previously bequeathed to them, including that known as the
Old Jewry Chambers. His portrait hangs in the Hall. Curiously enough, a
branch of the Denham family were copyholders of Hackney in the reign of
James I., and removed to Plumstead. Of later years another branch resided
in Hackney, and the wife of the present writer is a descendant of that
branch, descended from the Alderman Denham, and from the Thomas Denham,
a City Corporator early this century, and a member of the Court of the
Ironmongers’ Company.

DOWNE, Robert, in 1556, gave premises in St. Sepulchre; also for dinners,
obits and plate. The site “Ironmongers’ Buildings” is now covered by the
Holborn Valley Viaduct.

DRAPER, Sir Christopher, Lord Mayor, 1566. Eight times Master, the last
time in 1581. A window formerly existing at the Hall, with his portrait
on it, was removed in 1845.

EAST, Robert, 1606, gave tapestry to the Hall, and 10_l._ for “a
drinckinge” at his burial.

FRENCH, George Russell, son of John French, Master 1823. The son was
chosen surveyor to the Company May, 1849. He was a Shakespearean
antiquary, and wrote many interesting works, especially the compilation
“Catalogue of Antiquities” we have so often alluded to. He compiled
a very curious list of the Ironmongers’ Company, applying to each a
Shakespearean quotation. He died in October, 1881.

GEFFERY, Sir Robert, Lord Mayor 1686, Master 1667 and 1685. He died 1703,
and was buried in St. Dionis, Fenchurch Street, and when that church was
pulled down his remains were removed, July, 1878, to the Ironmongers’
burial-ground, Kingsland Road. By will, after many charitable bequests,
he left the residue of his estate for the purchase of land, and the
erection (in 1714) of the present chapel and fourteen almshouses. The old
twenty-nine rules for the government will be found in Strype’s “Stow.” At
the date of their erection the almshouses were in “the suburbs.”

GRINSELL, Thomas, “Citizen and Ironmonger,” a well-known parishioner of
St. Dunstan’s-in-the-West, Fleet Street, and famous for having been the
Master of “the gentle angler,” Izaak Walton, who became a member of the
Company in 1618. The Grinsell family subsequently resided in Westminster.
About Thomas, see “Memorials of Temple Bar and Fleet Street,” 1869, p. 80.

GYVA, John, about 1515 gave to the Company the hearse-cloth or
funeral-pall. It is of crimson velvet and cloth-of-gold tissue,
ornamented with fruit and flowers for centre-piece. In the centre of
each sides the Blessed Virgin Mary in glory crowned as Queen of Heaven,
with figures of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, St. John Baptist, and St.
John Evangelist. Beyond the figures on each side the Company’s arms, and
at each end in cloth of gold a monstrance, representing a silver-gilt
shrine, jewelled, inscribed with the name and date of John Gyva and
Elizabeth, his wife. This pall was long used for funerals. In 1532 it
was only to be used by members and their wives, but this exception was
relaxed, for in 1678 40_s._ was to be the fee for its use by strangers
generally. Elizabeth Gyva in 1534 gave the Company a tenement, directing
them to “remember” her in their prayers for 100 years.

HALLWOOD, Thomas, 1622, gave plate, exhibitions to universities, &c. His
portrait hangs in the Hall.

HANBEY, Thomas, 1782, provided for the education of two children in
Christ’s Hospital, and Mary, his wife, 1796, left the interest of 300_l._
to provide for the repairs of the tomb of her husband in St. Luke’s
Churchyard, Old Street, and residue of the interest among the poor.

HANDSON, Ralph, clerk to the Company, was a good benefactor and kindly
disposed, leaving in 1653 to the poor members, to hospitals, and to the
yeomanry for their half-yearly repast, as already mentioned. His portrait
hangs in the Hall. He was cousin to Nicholas Leat.

HEYLIN, Rowland, Sheriff 1624, Master 1614 and 1625, died 1629. He gave
300_l._, out of which a dinner and a sermon were to be annually provided
to commemorate the Powder Plot deliverance, and loans made to poor young
freemen. His portrait is in the Hall.

HARVEY, Sir James, Alderman; Lord Mayor 1582; four times Master. His
son, Sir Sebastian, was Lord Mayor 1618, Master 1600; wrote his name
“Harvye.” Lady Harvey, 1620, gave 21_l._ for a dinner at the funeral of
Sir Sebastian.

HOOD, Samuel, first Viscount, was presented with the freedom 1783 in
honour of his great victory. He died 1816. His portrait by Gainsborough
(presented by Lord Hood) hangs in the Hall. We possess a characteristic
letter written by Lord Hood in 1811 with his left hand.

HUMFREYS, Sir William, Bart., Lord Mayor 1714, Master 1705, and gave
a silver cup and cover. He acted as chief butler at the coronation of
George I. Died 1735, buried at St. Mildred’s, Poultry, and when that
church was pulled down (1875) the Company desired to give him a “proper”
reinterment at Ilford, but, although the character of the coffin showed
that the body inside was possibly his, all the silver plates and handles
and ornaments had been stolen long before, and so Sir William could not
be identified, and the remains were taken with the others.

LANE, Ralph, Turkey merchant, gave to the Company, in 1712, a silver-gilt
cup, upon which is engraved a coat of arms, with thirty-two quarterings.
It is interesting to note that John Lane, the elder, in 1457, was one of
the Company who advanced 10_l._ towards purchasing the Hall property. His
son John gave 40_s._

LAWRENCE.—A well-known and respected name in the City. Several have been
members of the Company. John Lawrans, about 1500, gave “a grete maser
which hath sent Lawrans in the bottom.” It weighed over 60 oz. Another
John Lawrence, in 1731, gave a tankard. We may here mention that

ST. LAWRENCE is the patron saint of the company. The old barge “head”
represented the saint with the gridiron in his hand. In the early
churchwarden’s accounts of the parish of St. Lawrence, Reading, are
numerous curious entries between 1520 and 1530, such as:—“For gildyng
of Seynt Lawrence gredyron, viij_d._”; “to the peynters Wyff, dew for
gilding of Seynt Lawren, vj_s._ viij_d._,” &c.

LEAT, Nicholas, Alderman, three times Master, died 1631, captain of
the trained bands. He was an authority in agriculture (_see_ Gerard’s
“Herbal,” 1597, p. 246). The sons presented his portrait now in the

LEWEN, Thomas, Alderman and Sheriff, Master 1535, died 1557, founded the
almshouses in Bread Street, now in St. Luke’s. A good benefactor. His
portrait is in the Hall.

MITCHELL, Thomas, died 1527, gave “a croft of garden enclosed by ditches
and wall” outside Cripplegate (now St. Luke’s) of about 10 acres, which,
with about an acre purchased in 1595, comprises now 11½ acres, covered
with some 360 houses. St. Luke’s Church was built and churchyard formed
on part of the ground. Portrait in Hall.

MORRIS, Richard, was Master in the Armada year, 1588. Many members of
the family have been in the Company between 1568 and 1718. He died 1592.
His daughter married first Sir William Cockayne (Lord Mayor, 1619),
and, secondly, Henry Carey, Earl of Dover. From both husbands peerages
descend. Samuel Morris, in 1680, gave an iron box, with keys, to hold the
Company’s seal.

MILNE, Sir David, K.C.B., admitted to the Freedom of the Company with his
superior officer, Lord Exmouth, in 1817.

NEWELL, Mrs. Ann, in 1544, gave a table and napkins—a seasonable gift in
those days. Her namesake, William J. Newall, who died a liveryman of the
Company in 1888, and worth 257,000_l._, seems to have forgotten in his
will his poor “brother-ironmongers”!

NICHOLL.—This is an old family name on the company. John Nicholl,
of Canonbury, Master 1859, was a good friend to the Company (and to
the writer). He compiled a magnificent account of the history of the
Ironmongers, 1851 and 1866, and the original MS. “Records,” in six
volumes, are in the Company’s library. He died February 7, 1871, aged
eighty-one, and his portrait appropriately hangs in the court-room next
to that of Mr. Beck. His son, Edward Hadham Nicholl, Esq., is the senior
warden of the Company this year.

PELLATT.—Many representatives of this Sussex family have been in
the Company, including Apsley Pellatt, M.P., died 1863 (who gave a
silver-mounted snuff-box), and Thomas Pellatt, Clerk of the Company, died
1829. Apsley Pellatt, of Lewes, grandfather of the M.P., was Master 1789.

PELLEW, Edward, created Viscount Exmouth, 1816. The hero of Algiers
and the terminator of slavery there. Presented with the freedom of the
Company, January 31, 1817, and with a sword by the City. The original
grant of the Company’s freedom, signed by T. Pellatt, the clerk, is
in the possession of a member of the Company. Portrait by Sir William
Beechey hangs in the Hall.

PRICE.—This family has had many representatives in the Company. John
Price was buried at Clapham 1739; his wife 1760. Sir Charles Price,
Bart., Lord Mayor 1803, was Master 1798. In his mayoralty he gave the
magnificent cut-glass chandelier now hanging in the Hall. His portrait
also hangs there. Among other papers the writer has the original Privy
Seal for the grant of the baronetcy. Sir Charles died 1818. His son was
Master 1819 and died 1847. He was succeeded by Sir Charles Rugge Price,
who had a splendid collection of engravings, including a choice copy of
Rembrandt’s “Hundred Guilder Piece”—Christ Healing the Sick—which at the
sale in 1867 sold for 1,180_l._, the highest sum ever paid for a single

SHAKESPEARE, John, Alderman and Sheriff 1768, translated to the
Ironmongers’ from the Broderers’ 1767, Master 1769. A large ropemaker
at Shadwell. Buried at Stepney, 1775. Gave silver candlesticks to the
Company. He was supposed to be descended from a branch of the dramatist’s

SLADE, Felix, son of Robert, of Doctors’ Commons, and Walcot Place,
Lambeth; Master 1803. The son was a collector of choice articles and a
great benefactor to the British Museum and the nation. He died March 29,
1868. He founded the Slade Professorship.

THOMPSON, William, Alderman, M.P. Lord Mayor 1828 A wealthy ironfounder.
Master 1829 and 1841; died 1854 His only daughter married the Earl of
Bective, now Marquis of Headfort. Among his gifts were two large silver

THOROLD.—Several members have been on the Company and served offices of
Master, &c.; also benefactors to the poor. The family were of Harmeston
Hall, county Lincoln, which was sold in 1884 for 115,000_l._

WALKER, Henry, made free in 1634, having served apprentice to Robert
Holland, was so extraordinary an individual that John Taylor wrote and
printed his “Life and Progress of Henry Walker the Ironmonger,” 1642, and
it is now a very rare tract. Captain William Walker, Master 1684, gave
in 1694 a large set of knives and forks, with silver handles, for the
Company’s future use.

WALTON, Izaak, “the gentle angler,” apprentice to Thomas Grinsell,
was, on November 18, 1618, “admitted and sworne a free brother of
this companie and payd for his admittance xiij_d._ and for default of
presentment and enrollment x_s._”. His portrait hangs in the Hall. He
was warden of the Yeomanry 1627, died December 15, 1683, and buried at
Winchester. A full account of him and his family will be found in the
“Memorials of Temple Bar and Fleet Street,” 1869, p. 82, and Pink’s and
Wood’s “Clerkenwell,” p. 107. The writer possesses a large amount of
curious and original matter relating to “good Izaak,” which he intends
one day to publish.

WESTWOOD.—Several have been members. While Robert was Master, 1828,
among the eighty-five liverymen were Lord Exmouth, Sir David Milne, two
baronets, and two aldermen. Robert, Master in 1861, gave a silver-gilt
cup and cover. William Henry, in 1878 and 1882, proved himself very
kindly disposed to the Company’s poor.

WOODWARD, Mistress Katherine, in the seventeenth century, left 200_l._
for poor scholars, prisoners, hospitals, and poor maids’ marriages.

YOUNG, Richard, 1675, gave a silver salt, a caudle cup and cover, and was
excused serving office of Master. John, in 1695, gave the Company six

Such, then, are a few of the names of Ironmongers worthy to be
remembered. We have not exhausted, by a very long way, our list, but we
think the selection will prove that the Ironmongers have had many good
and true citizens in their roll. Our wish is this: May they increase as
years roll on, and, as the toast is periodically given by the Master of
the Company, so do we echo it three times three—“The Worshipful Company
of Ironmongers, Root and Branch, and may it Flourish for Ever!”

       *       *       *       *       *

The writer having so far completed the task he has set himself, and
briefly chronicled some of the most interesting facts connected with
his ancient Company, thinks it but right to say that what he has now
printed is only a small portion of a larger history, which some time
hence he intends to produce for the benefit of the public at large, if
his life is spared to undertake the work. Having been honoured by his
brother freemen, as already stated in the last chapter, he determined to
prove he was not unmindful of his duty, or the rights and privileges of
his brethren, whatever some persons may think to the contrary. He has,
therefore, ventured to print as succinct an account of their history
as it is possible to give in a small compass, and Herbert’s “History,”
and the “Some Account” of his old friend John Nicholl being either out
of print or too expensive, probably the present will do as a temporary
substitute for the members until another is ready for publication.

                                                        T. C. NOBLE,
                                                  Warden of the Yeomanry,





The advance of technical education, the inauguration of another trades
exhibition promoted by a City Company, and that Company the ancient
Blacksmiths’ Guild, must be our excuse for placing upon record some
account of its history from the earliest date known about it as a

Of the origin of Guilds we have already had occasion to speak in our
history of the Ironmongers. Mr. Nicholl, the historian of that Company,
gives us some interesting facts in his notes, and we cannot do better
than quote his preliminary words:—

    The art of working in metals was more highly esteemed than
    any other by the Anglo-Saxons. Their best artisans were the
    clergy. Edgar established a law that every priest, to increase
    knowledge, should diligently learn some handicraft. Dunstan,
    Archbishop of Canterbury, to the arts of music, engraving,
    painting, and writing, added the craft of a smith, and was
    an expert workman. Stigand and Ethelwold, both bishops,
    were celebrated for their mechanical skill. The chief smith
    was a man of considerable distinction in the courts of the
    Anglo-Saxon kings and his privileges and weregild exceeded
    those of any other craftsman. Towards the period of the
    Conquest the manufacture of iron had considerably increased,
    and the art of working it was better understood. Steel and
    iron armour were common. At the time of the Domesday Survey
    the City of Hereford had six smiths, who paid each one penny
    for his forge, and made 120 pieces of iron from the king’s
    ore, receiving in return a customary payment of three pence,
    and being free from all other service. The City of Gloucester
    paid to the king 36 dicras of iron and 100 ductile rods to make
    nails for the king’s ships. Iron had now become the principal
    manufacture of Gloucestershire, and in the reign of Edward I.
    there is stated to have been no less than 72 furnaces in the
    Forest of Dean for smelting it. The largest establishments
    of the Romans for the manufacture of iron in Britain were in
    this county, but the method, whatever it may have been, which
    they employed was imperfect and the cinders of their numerous
    forges, wherever they are discovered, are found to contain
    a very considerable portion of unsmelted metal. The first
    smelting-furnace, and that which in all probability was used
    by the Romans for the manufacture of iron, is supposed to be
    the air-bloomery; it is described as a low conical structure,
    with small openings at the bottom for the admission of air
    and a large orifice at top for carrying off the gaseous
    products of combustion. It was filled with charcoal and ore
    in alternate layers, and the fire applied to the lowest part.
    How long this simple contrivance continued in use we have no
    means of ascertaining, the period to which it belongs being so
    very remote; there is no doubt, however, that the next era of
    improvement in the manufacture of iron was the introduction
    of bellows, and the construction of the blast-bloomery, which
    greatly facilitated the process of smelting, and, by allowing
    the construction of larger furnaces, considerably increased
    the manufacture. The blast-bloomery, in process of time and
    the constant progression of the arts, was superseded by what
    is denominated the blast-furnace. This last improvement is
    supposed to have been introduced during the early part of the
    sixteenth century; for in the seventeenth century the art of
    casting in metal had arrived at a great degree of perfection,
    and in the reign of Elizabeth there was a considerable export
    trade of cast-iron ordnance to the Continent.

As “by hammer and hand all arts do stand,” so was the origin of the
Blacksmiths’ Guild in the nineteenth year of the reign of Edward III.,
1325. Like many others it is a fraternity by prescription, subsequently
incorporated by Royal Charter. “The Articles of the Blacksmiths,” dated
the 46th of Edward III., A.D. 1372, are enrolled in Letter-book G, fo.
285, preserved among the Guildhall records, and a most interesting and
concise translation will be found in Mr. Riley’s “Memorials of London,”
1868, p. 361. The Articles specially provide against the introduction
into the City of inferior foreign-made work, and the forging of
trademarks was, of course, a serious matter. “Every master in the said
trade shall put his own mark upon his work, such as heads of lances,
knives and axes, and other large work, that people may know who made them
in case default shall be found in the same.” Forgers of such mark were
dealt with without delay, and it is interesting to know that one of the
earliest of the overseers appointed resided near Holborn Bridge (now the
Viaduct), close to the Charity Trust Estate of the present Company. No
one was to be made free of the Guild unless he was skilled in his work
as an apprentice should be, so that we may be sure the early blacksmiths
truly represented their “art and mystery.”

“The Ordinances of the Blacksmiths” are enrolled in the Guildhall
“Letter-book” H., fo. 292, and will be found translated in Mr. Riley’s
“Memorials,” p. 537. They are dated the 18 Richard 2nd, 1394. No smith
was to work throughout the night, or to annoy his neighbours, and the
hours of work were to be from 6 o’clock in the morning to 8 o’clock in
the evening in winter, and from the beginning of daylight to 9 o’clock at
night in summer. None to work in his shop on a Saturday, or on the eve
of a feast or holy day after the first stroke of the vesper bell, under
heavy fines and penalties. Two wardens to be annually elected for their
government, and strict search to be made in the City and suburbs for the
detection of false wares. No one to make a key for a lock unless he have
the lock to make it by, and nothing to be exposed for sale at any fair
until the wardens have certified it “good and lawful.”

Forty years afterwards we find another enrolment, and among records
where such an entry would never be looked for—the Register Book of the
Commissary of London, labelled “Liber 3 More, 1418-1438,” folio 455, now
preserved in the Probate Registry, Somerset House. We are indebted to Mr.
J. R. Daniel-Tyssen for the discovery in 1852, and to Mr. H. C. Coote
for editing and printing them in the “Transactions of the London and
Middlesex Archæological Society,” Vol. IV., pp. 32-35. They are entitled—

    Ordynances articulis, and constituciones ordeyned and grarnted
    by the Worshypfull Maistres and Wardeynes in the Worship of
    the Bretherhed of Saynt Loye, att the Fest of Ester, with alle
    the hole company of the crafte of blaksmythes, who assemble in
    Seynt Thomas of Acres and thence to the Grey Freres of London.
    Founded and ordeyned atte the Fest of Ester, 1434, 12 Henry VI.

These ordinances provide—that every servant (brother) pay 2_d._
quarterly, and every sister 1_d._ Strangers “for yncomyng,” pay 2_s._
A beadle of the Yeomanry to be appointed who was to receive from every
brother “for his salari” one-halfpenny quarterly. “And whaune eny
brother other sisster be passed to God the seyd bedell to have for his
traveyle ij_d_.” Any member disobeying the orders “to be corrected be
the Oversseer,” and disobeying the second time he “schalbe put oute of
the crafte for evere.” New masters were to be chosen at the feast of
St. Loy. “If therbe eny brother that telleth the Counseyle of the seyd
Brethered to his master prentis or to eny other man he shall paye to the
box ij_s._” Any brother scandalising another to be fined 12_d._ “Also at
the quarter dai we will have baken conys as hit was be gonne.” Any master
breaking the rule to pay 6_s._ 8_d._ All fines were halved—a moiety each
to “the Mastres box,” and the Yeomen’s box. After some other orders
follow a list of the fellowship members, sixty-seven in number, headed by
John Lamborn, who was then, or had been, “Master of the Yomen.” Two of
those signing the rules were the wives of two of the brethren, Stephen
Manne and William Mapull.

Although the Blacksmiths’ Guild was not in existence when St. Dunstan
played his harp, and worked at his forge and anvil, we cannot forbear
saying something about a prelate who has, more than any other, raised
the reputation of the “art and mystery,” which after 500 years still
flourishes within the boundaries of great London City, and at the time we
are writing this gives a splendid proof that it is not wanting in will or
way to attempt the improvement of the trade by advocating and supporting
technical education.

Dunstan, to whose memory so many churches have been dedicated, was
born near Glastonbury, in county Somerset, and educated at the Abbey.
In subsequent years, when he passed a retired life, he built himself
a small cell, and enacted there (if tradition holds its own) one of,
if not the greatest miracle upon record. He was a favourite with King
Athelstan, whom he much pleased by musical performances on his harp, and
many astounding tales have been handed down to us about this instrument
playing without being touched, and rendering such musical and hitherto
unknown melody as enabled the humbler classes to be much imposed upon.
Dunstan died May 18, A.D. 988, so that he has been dead just 900 years.
And yet to-day is still recorded that marvellous meeting he once had with
“the evil one,” or, as we were told in our youth, the Devil. Many a time
did this tempter “try his hand” upon our musical blacksmith. He appeared
to him in every shape and form, even as a beautiful female, and certainly
to our mind the most likely “to draw.” Poor Dunstan in his little cell
at Glastonbury, whenever at his devotional practice as harpist, or using
his forge and anvil as blacksmith, was certain to receive a visit, and
his sweet song drowned by the black visitor’s unholy jeers. At last the
day of reckoning came, Dunstan seized a golden opportunity when his
tyrannical tormenter put in appearance at the very time his forge was at
work and his pincers hot. Little was said, no doubt, but the doings were
great—the greatest ever recorded of man’s work—for

    St. Dunstan, so the story goes,
    Seized his sable Majesty by the nose,
                      And made him loudly roar;
    So loud, indeed, from North to South,
    From East to West, like from thunder’s mouth
                      It echoed a thousand miles and more.

But the pulling of the evil one’s nose was but a part of the transaction,
for our blacksmith then and there pulled out his parchment and made
the enemy sign that famous declaration, never in future to molest Holy
Church or Holy men, and keep aloof of all buildings in which hang the
horseshoe. It is not many years ago that in two streets in London this
emblem of protection or “luck” may have been seen—Dudley Street, St.
Giles’s, and Dean Street, Fetter Lane—the latter place not a thousand
miles, but only a few yards, from where this account is printed. As for
the hammer, anvil and tongs of St. Dunstan, Mr. Lower in his notices of
the ironworks of Sussex, gives woodcuts of the three articles, said to be
“the famous originals, preserved at Mayfield in that county, so noted for
its iron. The anvil and tongs are of no great antiquity, but the hammer
with its iron handle may be considered a mediæval relic.” A few years ago
we attended a sale of curiosities of more than the usual interest, and
which were the lifelong attention of Mr. Snoxall, Charterhouse Square.
One of the lots was the original anvil and hammer of the “Harmonious
Blacksmith,” from which Handel composed his celebrated song, and we can
endorse, from a trial we made, the assertion of the MS. description that
Powell’s anvil produced B and E notes, as few anvils have done, or are
likely to do again.

St. Dunstan is the patron saint of the Goldsmiths’ Company, and he
figures in their hall both in picture and in statue. The legend was a
favourite one in their Lord Mayor’s Show, especially in that of 1687,
when in the trade pageant the prelate seated on a chair of State, having
a golden mitre on his head, a crozier in one hand and tongs in the other,
surrounded by forges and anvils and blacksmith at work, taught the devil
the oft-repeated lesson not to intrude on forbidden ground. We might
multiply evidences of the popularity of the famous legend, but we have
said enough, and must proceed with our Company’s history.

In the first year of the reign of Henry VII. (1485) both the Blacksmiths’
and Spurriers’ guilds will be found in the list given by Campbell, vol.
i. p. 4; and a few years later, in 1502, standing in precedency the 36th
Company, the Blacksmiths had a livery of sixteen, and the Spurriers,
standing the 46th, had six. When Henry VIII. and Queen Katherine “shall
pass by towards their Coronation,” the same Companies sent members to
represent them, and in the eighth year of that King’s reign, 1517, it
was settled that in precedency in the future the Blacksmiths should be
the 41st Company and the Spurriers the 46th. There were then about sixty
Companies in the City, but of these ten were not in the “clothing,” that
is to say, had a livery.


It was by Charter, dated April 20, 1571, that the two Companies were
united under the usual conditions of a body corporate and with the powers
and privileges of making ordinances for the government of the Company.
The Charter was confirmed by James I. in his second year, March 21,
1604-5. Meanwhile the precepts poured into the Blacksmiths as they did to
other Companies, and in May, 1595, out of 12,000 quarters of corn stored
at the Bridgehouse in the preceding November by the City Guilds, only
some 779 quarters remained, and ten of these belonged to this Company.
The Corn Custom, as described by Herbert, was a heavy tax, and often so
tyrannical was the system of levy that some of the wardens were sent to
prison in 1632 for neglecting to obey orders.

In 1609 King James I. submitted to the City of London his scheme for the
plantation of the forfeited lands of the O’Neills and the O’Dohertys in
the province of Ulster in the North of Ireland; and the same King founded
a new order of Knighthood, purchasable by those desirous of helping
to maintain the authority of the King in future against the rebels in
Ireland. That order of Knighthood is the present Baronetage, and in proof
of its origin every person so titled bears in his shield of arms the red
hand of Ulster. The citizens of London paid James I., from first to last,
for their Ulster estates more than 60,000_l._ The difficulty then arose
as to the management, and so, in 1613, the whole property was partitioned
off into twelve shares (according to the sum subscribed by each of the
twelve principal Guilds, who, having raised 40,000_l._, showed that each
of the twelve had paid 3,333_l._ 6_s._ 8_d._). With the twelve principal
companies certain minor ones, having paid a certain sum, joined in the
scheme, and accordingly, the Blacksmiths, subscribing 64_l._ with seven
others, became associated with the Vintners, who held possession until
the year 1736, when they sold the whole estate, reserving only a rent

There are many interesting documents extant relating to the Blacksmiths
and the Blacksmiths’ Company. We do not lack the will to publish all the
information we could give about their progress, but for the greatest of
all reasons—want of room, our space being but limited—we must limit our
notes to a few of the most important events.

In 1607 Thomas Bickford, Master of the Company, prosecuted Nicholas Lowe
for carrying on the trade of a smith, he not being free of the City; and
in March, 1612, the curious controversy about Daubigny’s patent set all
the machinery of the Royal Commissioners and the City into high-pressure
activity. It appears that Clement Dawbney, _alias_ Daubigny, desired to
have a renewal of his patent for cutting iron into small rods, and that
restraint should be placed upon the importation of foreign iron so cut.
His petition to the Commissioners of Suits was backed by shipwrights,
masters, and nailmakers, who particularly condemned foreign iron. The
Commissioners, being unable to decide, referred the matter to three of
the City Companies, the Ironmongers, Blacksmiths, and Carpenters. The
record books of the Ironmongers contain many interesting details of
the inquiry made by that company into the question in dispute, and two
of the most active members in the debate were two of the Chamberlyn
family—George (then Master, in 1612) and Richard (who had been Master
two years previous). The Nailmakers reminded the Commissioners, “as the
fathers of the Commonwealth,” that a private patent deprived the poor
of their trade and labour; that one or two enriched themselves at the
cost of the many. “Wee allwaies have in evrie C. weight eleven or twelve
pounds of ends or refuse iron and pay for that after 2_d._ the lb.,
whereof we make againe ever hardly a halfpenny for everie pound.” Also,
“We affirme as workmen that especially it is that the Flemmish iron is
as good and servicable and worketh as well as or owne English iron.” The
result was a temporary benefit, for the patent was called in; although
Sir Francis Bacon, one of the Commissioners, having made a special report
subsequently, in 1617, that the monopoly, or patent, would benefit not
only the Blacksmiths but the Nailmakers, and was only opposed by Burrell,
who had set up a similar ironworks at Danbury, the King renewed the
patent, December 11, 1618. The granting of similar monopolies caused no
end of bickerings and ill-feeling, and ruin was by no means uncommon
among those who neither had capital with which to defend their rights,
nor interest at Court to prevent that “bribery and corruption” so common
in the surroundings of our seventeenth century monarchy. When, in the
previous reign, the Earl of Oxford had endeavoured to obtain one of these
patents of privilege against the Company of Pewterers, “whereby he would
have undone the pewterers, their wives and families,” Queen Elizabeth
acted with discretion—not always a virtue with all-powerful royalty—for
she actually granted the Earl’s desired privilege to the company itself!

We will now give a full copy of a petition which the Blacksmiths sent to
the Privy Council in December, 1631. It is directed to “The Right Honᵇˡᵉ
the Lords and others of His Maᵗʸˢ most Honᵇˡᵉ Privy Counsell,” by “the Mʳ
Wardens and Assistants of the Society of Blacksmiths, London”:—

        Humbly sheweth—

    That notwᵗʰstanding yoʳ petʳˢ great care and good endeavʳ
    by making searches and orders, according to their oath and
    charter, whereby to suppress disorders and abuses in deceitfull
    working and making of ironwork, yet by the evill example and
    refractorie of some ill-affected persons of their society,
    whose names are here under menconed, their authority and orders
    are slighted and disgraced, and many who have been heretofore
    obedient and conformable doe now by their meanes continue
    refractory and disorderly, and yoʳ petʳˢ and their charters are
    so notoriously scandalised and abused that of themselves they
    cannot reforme the same, nor have they any hope of redresse
    therefore but by yoʳ honoʳˢ favor.

    They therefore most humbly beseeche yoʳ honoʳˢ to take their
    great wrong and just grievance into yoʳ hoᵇˡᵉ considerations.
    And to be pleased to send for the said disorderly and obstinate
    persons hereunder named before you. And to take such order wᵗʰ
    them for their conformity and obedience to the ordinances made
    and to be made for the good governmᵗ of the said society and
    prevencon. of deceits & abuses as to yʳ grave and hoᵇˡᵉ wisdome
    shall seem meete.

    And they shall ever praye for yoʳ honoʳˢ.

The names of the six disorderly Blacksmiths appear to have been:—George
Johnson, William Bickford, Hanns Garrett, Leonard Berars, William Browne,
and Henry Baily. Whether their nonconformity and other troubles led the
Company to obtain a new charter we know not, but it is quite clear they
did obtain one of Charles I., in his fourteenth year, and dated February
16, 1638-39. By this new grant all persons carrying on the business or
trade of a blacksmith or spurrier within the City of London or suburbs
four miles round were incorporated as “the Keepers or Wardens and Society
of the Art or Mystery of Blacksmiths, London,” to have four keepers or
wardens and twenty-one assistants, and to make by-laws and ordinances,
to examine all spurs, ironwork made, &c., within the City and four
miles round, and to hold lands to the extent of 30_l._ above the former
charter allowance of 30_l._ In accordance with this grant and power the
Company framed new orders (confirmed by the Judges), dated in December,
1640, and one of these allowed the Company to “call, nominate, choose,
and admit into the yeomanry of the said Society such and so many persons
being freemen of the said Society as they should think meet, honest, and
of ability to be called and admitted into the said yeomanry.”

This shows that the Company anciently comprised the Livery, yeomanry,
and freemen, and the clerk believes that the freemen were the journeymen
and the yeomanry the master blacksmiths. Under the _Quo warranto_ writ
of Charles II. the Company surrendered with the other Guilds, but were
reinstated to their rights and privileges by James II. in the first year
of his reign by a charter dated March 18, 1684-85.

The Act of Common Council of June 9, 1658, compelled all persons carrying
on the trade to be free of the Company. Fifty years later the Company
took special means to enforce it; but, like many of the other rights
and privileges of the Guilds, through the altered conditions of trading
the power of the Company has not been exercised for many years. The
following entry from the books of the Founders’ Company, as extracted by
Mr. Williams and printed in his “Annals,” is sufficiently interesting to
merit a place in our present notice of the Blacksmiths:—

        1660, Sept. 3. Memorandum.

    That upon this day the mastʳ and wardens did visit all the
    ffounders shopps in Bartholomew Lane and Lothebury—as well of
    them that were free of the ffounders company as those of the
    coppersmiths, and found in the shop of John Lucas one lock
    of brass fitted in wᵗʰ 20 oz. of lead and one 4-lb. weight
    unsealed, unsized, and unmarked with the owner’s stamp, which
    work was brought into the Hall.

Founders’ Hall stood in Lothbury (hence the name of Founders’ Hall
Court), and was let to the Electric Telegraph Company in 1853. The
Founders of Bartholomew Lane and Lothbury have long since departed to
other quarters of the City, and the sites of their ancient trading are
now occupied by the great monetary fraternities, the Bank of England and
other banks, and the Capel Court of the Stock Exchange.

In May, 1750, the Committee of the Corporation of London specially
reported on several petitions presented by masters and journeymen
freemen, and it was resolved that the matters complained of required some
regulation; that the Court of Aldermen any Tuesday may have the power
to grant to any master freeman liberty to employ non-freemen, but under
certain restrictions; and that all proceedings and prosecutions rest in
the name of the Chamberlain, who, however, only represents the City, and
does not obtain any personal benefit under such action.



According to the returns made to the Royal Commissioners, the
Blacksmiths’ Company now comprises four keepers or wardens, twenty-one
assistants, the Livery, and the yeomanry. The freedom of the Company
is obtainable by servitude (as an apprentice), by patrimony, and by
redemption. Formerly a quarterage of 4_s._ per annum was collected,
but this caused much trouble in the collection. Females were formerly
admitted, but none during the last twenty years. For thirty years
previous to 1833 the admissions or calls to the Livery were often one or
two only a year, the highest years being 1805, 1810, and 1818, when ten,
eleven, and ten respectively were admitted. During the same period the
freemen numbered from six to twenty a year; in 1813 and 1818 the actual
admittances were twenty-one. In 1834 about three-fifths of the Livery
were, or had been, smiths, and of the whole Company nearly one-half were
of the trade.

There is one advantage in this Company—the calls to the Livery go by
rotation from the lists of the yeomanry, and according to seniority.
In 1882 there were eighty-three freemen and eighty-one liverymen. As
deaths take place a fresh “call” is made, although in the nine years
ending 1879 only thirty-two were admitted freemen. Another difficulty has
arisen as regards apprentices; only three were admitted in the past ten
years. Persons, even freemen, have been led astray by the “know-nothings”
of society, and have simply been persuaded to believe that the City
apprenticeship is now of no value. We know different; and hence we
heartily applaud the endeavours of the Company of Blacksmiths and their
energetic clerk, Mr. W. B. Garrett, in holding the exhibition in 1889 in
the Ironmongers’ Hall, and promoting technical education among the rising
generation of the trade, art, or mystery. The Corporation of London also
proposes to make the “indenture” more conformable to the times, and this,
too, is a step in the right direction.

The Blacksmiths’ Company now holds its meetings at Guildhall. Formerly
they met in the Blacksmiths’ Hall standing on Lambeth Hill, Doctors’
Commons, which in Hughson’s time (1806) was “a much neglected
structure,” and yet “a good brick building with very convenient and
stately apartments.” This building formed part of the City lands of the
Corporation of London, and by indenture dated in February, 1746, was
granted on a forty years’ lease by the City to “the Wardens, Keepers,
and Society of the Mystery or Art of the Blacksmiths.” It is described
as situate in the parish of St. Mary Magdalene, Old Fish Street, having
a frontage to Lambeth Hill of 76 feet 6 inches, and then used by the
Company as their hall, &c. When the lease expired, the Blacksmiths held
their meetings, as we have said, at Guildhall, and do so still.

The return made to the Commissioners of 1880 states, “The Company is not
possessed of plate, pictures or furniture,” but a loving cup, in private
hands, of silver, was presented to the Company by Christopher Pym, upon
his admission as clerk in 1665. The front of the stem that supports the
bowl is occupied by a figure of Vulcan as a smith at his anvil, on which
is engraved the motto of the Company, “By Hammer and Hand all Arts doe
Stand.” On the outside of the bowl are also engraved the Company’s arms,
which were confirmed by Sir William Segar, Garter, June 24, 1610.

_Arms_: Sa. a chev. or. between 3 hammers ar. handled of the second,
ducally crowned of the last.

_Crest_: On a wreath a mount vert; thereon a phœnix with wings indorsed
proper, firing herself with the sunbeams of the last.

The motto of the Company in ancient times was: “As God will so be it.”

The Blacksmiths’ is not a rich corporation, and the only charity it
possesses is that founded by Edward Prestyn in June 1557. He left five
houses in Fleet Lane and Old Bailey, charged with the simple trust for
the bestowal of 4_s._ per annum among “the poor artists” of the Company.
As a proof that the Company carry out the trust in accordance with the
spirit which prompts right-minded citizens, the Blacksmiths receive a
rental from these premises of 136_l._ a year, and yet pay away in charity
12_l._ per annum each to twelve poor persons of the Company, being 8_l._
more than the amount received! This would appear to be a mystery were
it not explained that the Company privately purchased some other small
properties, the rents from which help to keep themselves in existence,
and enable them to augment the pensions of their poorer brethren.

We cannot omit to say a word or two about another society which bears
the arms and the motto of the London Guilds, but is known as the Smiths’
Company of Newcastle-on-Tyne. Like the Blacksmiths, the Smiths are an
ancient fraternity, for its earliest ordinance is dated 1436, and among
the peculiar enactments was that no Scotchman should be taken as an
apprentice, or allowed to work for a member under a penalty of 40_s._—a
large sum in those days. In 1664 the branches of the trade represented
on the Company were numerous, and in 1677 they were incorporated, having
four wardens (one to be an anchor-smith), and twelve assistants, four of
each to represent anchor-smiths, locksmiths, and farriers’-blacksmiths.
Their hall adjoined the Blackfriars in Newcastle; the ground-floor room,
a chapel, was the room in which homage was done by the Scottish King to
the King of England. In 1824 there were seventy-seven members belonging
to this Smiths’ Company.

There have been many noteworthy members of the Blacksmiths’ Guilds,
although the custom of the City in olden time compelled the chief
Magistrate to be “one of the twelve.” Consequently the names of those
citizens in this Company who have served the offices of Lord Mayor and
sheriffs have been limited, and so far as we can learn the earliest only
dates back to the end of the last century, when Thomas Baker, exactly a
century ago—in 1789—was one of “the eyes of the Mayor” (as Stow quaintly
describes the sheriffs), serving in the mayoralty of the celebrated
William Pickett, who originated the grand improvement without Temple Bar,
a full account of which will be found in the “Memorials” of that edifice
published in 1869. The late Alderman James Abbiss was a Blacksmith, and
one of the sheriffs in 1859, and in turn would have served as Lord Mayor
had not illness compelled him to resign his gown.

We have numerous interesting references to the wills and other evidences
of the Blacksmiths of old London, but want of space prevents even a
summary. Two only, and these a century apart, are sufficiently curious to
mention. William Reason, in 1568, left his livery-gowns to his brother
and cousin, and to his apprentice William one of the vices in his shop
and half of his files and tools. Industrious apprentices were thought of
by their masters in those days. “And furder,” continues Mr. Reason, “I
bequeathe to the Company of Blackesmythes being of the lyvery that shall
attende upon my bodye to the buriall for a repaste or drincking to be had
and bestowed amongst them twentie shillings.” The citizens of old London
never expected their brethren to work for nothing, and funerals with the
City Companies, especially with those who possessed halls, were of daily
occurrence, as a reference to the “Diary of Henry Machyn,” 1550-1563,
printed by the Camden Society in 1848, will amply prove. In 1674 William
Rawlings, who requested to be buried in St. Stephen’s Church, Coleman
Street, and possessed much property about London, was a benefactor to the
poor of Bromley and Bow, Middlesex. Joseph Thornhill, also a Blacksmith,
who was buried at Hampstead, left by will in 1718 all his property
adjacent to the well-known “Pindar of Wakefield,” St. Pancras, and in
which house he some time dwelt, in trust for the benefit of his two
daughters. An account of this celebrated tavern and tea-gardens will be
found at page 58 of Pinks and Wood’s “History of Clerkenwell.”

Finally, we can but echo the sentiments expressed in the return to the
Royal Commissioners in 1880:—“The objects of the establishment of the
Blacksmiths’ Guild were (1) the promotion of good fellowship; (2) the
protection and encouragement of the trade the name of which is borne
by the Company;” and that the present Company “do all that is in their
power” to attain the objects of such foundation whenever opportunity
presents itself. The opportunity has been given them in A.D. 1889 to
promote technical education by holding an exhibition at Ironmongers’
Hall, and, as it is their first effort, so do we sincerely hope it is the
forerunner of many successful ones in the future.


(_Reprinted from THE IRONMONGER, March 30, 1889._)

The exhibition of articles specially applicable to the blacksmith’s art
has been held this week in the Ironmongers’ Hall, Fenchurch Street. When
a month ago (February 23) we called attention to the competition that had
been opened by the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths, we expressed a hope
that, although it was their first effort, it might prove a successful
one; and it is a pleasure to us to be able to chronicle that a most
valuable and interesting proof has been given that on English soil there
are still to be found journeymen and industrious apprentices who can turn
out “by hammer and hand” some very creditable work.

Like most of the first exhibitions that have been held for the promotion
of technical education, the Blacksmiths’ has not been an extensive one.
Only twenty-eight exhibitors sent in specimens, and only two dozen of
these were competitors. But, if the quantity was small, the quality was
good, and, we must say, far exceeded our expectations. Each exhibit was
limited in weight to 20 lbs., so that the entire collection was easily
arranged upon tables, &c., in the court-room of the Ironmongers’ Company,
who had willingly lent their brother-blacksmiths a most interesting
apartment, which effectively added to the exhibition.

The exhibits comprised works by apprentices or youths, and works by
journeymen—in the former three sections, and two prizes offered in
each; in the latter three prizes. The apprentices or youths were in the
respective sections not to exceed seventeen, nineteen, or twenty-one
years of age, “the work to be pure hammer-work of his own production
of any article of ornament or utility.” The journeymen’s work was to
be specially “table ornamentation or panel,” the three prizes being
10_l._, 7_l._ 10_s._, and 5_l._, both apprentices and journeymen to have
a certificate of merit in addition. The majority of the exhibitors were
of the metropolis, but in a few instances the North, even as far off as
Midlothian, sent competitors.

The judges met at Ironmongers’ Hall on Tuesday last to inspect the
exhibits, and were in several instances sorely tried, for most of the
work sent in was, as we stated, very creditable. The Blacksmiths called
to their aid skilled practical craftsmen outside their own body, so that
the decisions arrived at must be considered eminently satisfactory. The
general public viewed the exhibits on Wednesday and Thursday, and on
Friday (yesterday) afternoon the prizes were awarded to the successful
competitors in the fine Hall of the Ironmongers in the presence of a
numerous company. The following were the successful recipients:—


    1.—A. Harvey, 33 Marsham Street, Westminster, gas-bracket.
    First prize, first section, 3_l._

    2.—Arthur Beaver, 4 Victoria Terrace, Kilburn, electric
    table-lamp. Second prize, first section, 2_l._

    3.—J. B. Imison, 31 Rowena Crescent, Battersea,
    suspending-lamps. First prize, second section, 4_l._ and medal.

    4.—C. Baker, 17 South Wharf Road, Paddington, three-candle
    bracket. Second prize, second section, 3_l._

    5.—A. W. Elwood, 9 Kennington Park Gardens, two panels, 40 ×
    10½. First prize, third section, 5_l._

    6.—F. Burkitt, 4 Great Suffolk Street, Southwark, three-candle
    stand. Second prize, third section, 4_l._ and medal.


    1.—G. Snailum, 66 Clarendon Road, Hornsey, panel, 36 × 13½.
    First prize, 10_l._

    2.—H. Ross, 13 Melton Street, N.W., bracket and oil-lamp.
    Second prize, 7_l._ 10_s._

    3.—T. R. Kendall, 11 Haymerle Road, Peckham, suspending-lamp
    holder, third prize, 5_l._

In the preface to their list of exhibits the Company (through their
energetic clerk, Mr. W. B. Garrett) appeal to exhibitors:

    The Blacksmiths’ Company initiate this exhibition in the hope
    that British workmen will once more come to the front, and show
    that they can make as good and as elegant articles, both for
    use and ornament, as can the foreign artisan. Many persons who
    visited the Italian Exhibition last year saw what that country
    could produce, and must have been struck by the number of
    articles in ornamental ironwork sold, and, in many instances,
    in which copies were ordered. Why does not the English workman
    endeavour to follow—shall I not say lead?—in such work, and so
    retain in this country a growing and profitable industry?

We can endorse this appeal, and hope that the first exhibition may be
but the forerunner of many others, each to be more successful than its

The Blacksmiths expressed their best thanks to the Ironmongers for so
kindly lending their hall, as also to Sir P. C. Owen and his staff at
the South Kensington Museum for sending on loan a most interesting and
valuable collection of ancient ironwork, chiefly of the fifteenth,
sixteenth, and seventeenth century. Among the articles exhibited were:—

    Keys of various countries.
    Fire-dog (Venetian), sixteenth century.
    Prow of a gondola, fifteenth century.
    Knocker (Italian), fifteenth century.
    Knocker (German), about 1600.
    Candlesticks and snuffer-stands.
    Locks, various dates.

One of the wardens of the Blacksmiths’ Company, Mr. J. F. Clarke,
sent for exhibition several interesting articles, including a large
representation of the armorial shield of the Company, whose motto is: “By
Hammer and Hand all Arts do Stand.”


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Brief History of the Worshipful Company of Ironmongers - London A.D. 1351-1889, with an Appendix Containing Some Account of the Blacksmiths' Company" ***

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